Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To irritate or torment persistently.
  • transitive v. To wear out; exhaust.
  • transitive v. To impede and exhaust (an enemy) by repeated attacks or raids.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To fatigue or to tire with repeated and exhausting efforts.
  • v. To annoy endlessly or systematically; to molest.
  • v. To put excessive burdens upon; to subject to anxieties.
  • n. devastation; waste
  • n. worry; harassment

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To fatigue; to tire with repeated and exhausting efforts; esp., to weary by importunity, teasing, or fretting; to cause to endure excessive burdens or anxieties; -- sometimes followed by out.
  • n. Devastation; waste.
  • n. Worry; harassment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fatigue or tire out, as with annoying labor, care, importunity, enforced watchfulness, misfortune, etc.; distress by perplexity; wear out, as with toil.
  • Milit.: To annoy by repeated attacks; keep constantly on the defensive.
  • To lay waste or desolate; raid.
  • To rub or scrape.
  • Synonyms Distress, etc. (see afflict); to jade, disturb, exhaust, fag. See trouble.
  • n. Harassment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. annoy continually or chronically
  • v. exhaust by attacking repeatedly

Etymologies

French harasser, possibly from Old French harer, to set a dog on, from hare, interj. used to set a dog on, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French harasser ("to tire out, to vex"). Origin uncertain; compare Old French harier ("harry"); see harry; compare Old French, harace ("a basket made of cords"), harace, harasse ("a very heavy and large shield; or harer to set (a dog) on"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • After the fight that we didn't get to see with Bumblebee because we were forced to see a robotic gremlin harass 2 annoying kids, Barricade disappeared from the film.

    New Transformers 2 Details Revealed at Hasbro Licensing Summit | /Film

  • I might also be said to be intending to "harass" -- who knows, given how vague the term is?

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • February 10th, 2010 at 6: 09 pm by the time you’re harassing Pomona College students, the only more inoffensive and unlikely Americans left to harass is a senior citizens’ yoga group.

    Matthew Yglesias » A Missed Torture Opportunity

  • Anyway, Myles wins the thread – by the time you’re harassing Pomona College students, the only more inoffensive and unlikely Americans left to harass is a senior citizens’ yoga group.

    Matthew Yglesias » A Missed Torture Opportunity

  • Day to day, though, censorship is less about dissuading the truly motivated (though, if it can make them easy to detect and harass, that is a plus) and more about preventing the casual from becoming motivated.

    Slashdot: Your Rights Online

  • They think our money is spent paying officers to "harass" the hunting public or pick up dead deer along the highways.

    Q&A, Colleen Shannon, Pa Land Management Officer

  • Would that more foreigners would "harass" people in this way in Taiwan.

    Ghost Month, Teleology, Cognition, and Belief

  • Despite the frequency with which I use the verb "harass," I think this entry should've been entitled "Hassle Hasbro."

    Harass Hasbro!

  • Another opposition deputy singled out by Mugabe, Mike Auret, said there was nothing that Mugabe could "harass" him for.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Immigration officials in the Transkei region were on a new campaign to "harass" expatriate teachers who had no work permits, a delegation of Indian nationals claimed in Umtata at the weekend.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

Comments

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  • Thanks, chelster!

    March 23, 2011

  • "USAGE NOTE: Educated usage appears to be evenly divided on the pronunciation of harass. In a recent survey 50 percent of the Usage Panel preferred a pronunciation with stress on the first syllable, while 50 percent preferred stress on the second syllable. Curiously, the Panelists' comments appear to indicate that each side regards itself as an embattled minority."

    --from The American Heritage Dictionary (3d ed.)

    March 21, 2011

  • The -ass is prevalent for me. So to speak.

    October 21, 2008

  • "harris" or "har-rass" ?

    January 5, 2008

  • one "r" or two, in all its forms? a long-time pain for me.

    December 6, 2006