• synonyms


[huh-ras, har-uhs]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.
  2. to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities; harry; raid.
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Origin of harass

1610–20; < French, Middle French harasser to harry, harass, verbal derivative of harace, harache (in phrase courre a la harace pursue), equivalent to hare cry used to urge dogs on (< Frankish *hara here, from this side; compare Old High German hera, Middle Dutch hare) + -asse augmentative or pejorative suffix < Latin -ācea
Related formsha·rass·a·ble, adjectiveha·rass·er, nounha·rass·ing·ly, adverbha·rass·ment, nouno·ver·har·ass, verb (used with object)un·ha·rassed, adjective

Synonyms for harass

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1. badger, vex, plague, hector torture. See worry. 2. molest.

Pronunciation note

harass , a 17th-century French borrowing, has traditionally been pronounced [har-uhs] /ˈhær əs/, with stress on the first syllable. A newer pronunciation, [huh-ras] /həˈræs/, has developed in North American (but not British) English. While this newer pronunciation is sometimes criticized by older educated speakers, it has become the more common one in the U.S., especially among younger educated speakers, some of whom have only minimal familiarity with the older form.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for harassed

burn, raid, tease, intimidate, pester, torment, persecute, heckle, hassle, hound, maraud, bait, distress, exhaust, strain, vex, foray, worry, devil, tire

Examples from the Web for harassed

Contemporary Examples of harassed

Historical Examples of harassed

  • Better, however, was death than to be thus hunted and harassed.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • For very early shall I leave this place; harassed and fatigued to death.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The man is simply crazy about you, and harassed to death with this ranch business.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Clennam, harassed by more anxieties than one, was among this devoted band.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Here the infamous Tschauna harassed me and well-nigh put me to shame.

British Dictionary definitions for harassed


  1. (tr) to trouble, torment, or confuse by continual persistent attacks, questions, etc
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Derived Formsharassed, adjectiveharassing, adjective, nounharassment, noun

Word Origin for harass

C17: from French harasser, variant of Old French harer to set a dog on, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German harēn to cry out
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

Word Origin and History for harassed



1610s, from French harasser "tire out, vex," possibly from Old French harer "set a dog on," and perhaps blended with Old French harier "to harry, draw, drag" [Barnhart]. Originally "to lay waste, devastate," sense of "distress" is from 1650s. Related: Harassed; harassing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper