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[har-ee] /ˈhær i/
verb (used with object), harried, harrying.
to harass, annoy, or prove a nuisance to by or as if by repeated attacks; worry:
He was harried by constant doubts.
to ravage, as in war; devastate:
The troops harried the countryside.
verb (used without object), harried, harrying.
to make harassing incursions.
Origin of harry
before 900; Middle English herien, Old English her(g)ian (derivative of here army); cognate with German verheeren, Old Norse herja to harry, lay waste
Related forms
unharried, adjective
1. molest, plague, trouble. 2. plunder, strip, rob, pillage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for harrying
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was just as if all the demons of the Nether Regions were at work worrying and harrying their victims.

  • It was the harrying they enjoyed––the sight of a man tormented.

    The Web of the Golden Spider Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • It so happened that Egther, a Finlander, was harrying the Swedes on a roving raid.

    The Danish History, Books I-IX Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")
  • This myth is undoubtedly one of the class which relates to the 'harrying of Hades.'

  • The Comprachicos were also called the Cheylas, a Hindu word, which conveys the image of harrying a nest.

    The Man Who Laughs Victor Hugo
  • The French were harrying Flanders, and were threatening to invade Holland.

    Lord Chatham Archibald Phillip Primrose Rosebery
  • Every shire in Wessex had they cruelly marked with burning and with harrying.

    The Normans Sarah Orne Jewett
  • The Harriers or Harrows are so called from their harrying propensities.

British Dictionary definitions for harrying


verb -ries, -rying, -ried
(transitive) to harass; worry
to ravage (a town, etc), esp in war
Word Origin
Old English hergian; related to here army, Old Norse herja to lay waste, Old High German heriōn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for harrying



Old English hergian "make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder," the word used in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" for what the Vikings did to England, from Proto-Germanic verb *harohan (cf. Old Frisian urheria "lay waste, ravage, plunder," Old Norse herja "to make a raid, to plunder," Old Saxon and Old High German herion, German verheeren "to destroy, lay waste, devastate"), from *harjaz "an armed force" (cf. Old English here, Old Norse herr "crowd, great number; army, troop," Old Saxon and Old Frisian heri, Dutch heir, Old High German har, German Heer "host, army," Gothic harjis), from PIE root *koro- "war" (cf. Lithuanian karas "war, quarrel," karias "host, army;" Old Church Slavonic kara "strife;" Middle Irish cuire "troop;" Old Persian kara "host, people, army;" Greek koiranos "ruler, leader, commander"). Weakened sense of "worry, goad, harass" is from c.1400. Related: Harried; harrying.


masc. proper name, a familiar form of Henry. Weekley takes the overwhelming number of Harris and Harrison surnames as evidence that "Harry," not "Henry," was the Middle English pronunciation of Henry. Also cf. Harriet, English equivalent of French Henriette, fem. diminutive of Henri. Nautical slang Harriet Lane "preserved meat" (1896) refers to a famous murder victim whose killer allegedly chopped up her body.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for harrying


Related Terms

big harry, every tom* dick* and harry

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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