[huh-ras, har-uhs]

verb (used with object)

to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.
to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities; harry; raid.

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

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for harassing

Contemporary Examples of harassing

Historical Examples of harassing

  • Peremptorily I dismissed these harassing and frightful doubts.

  • After all, Correy had no more than put into words some fears which had been harassing me.

    Priestess of the Flame

    Sewell Peaslee Wright

  • To Hondscio then was that harassing deadly, his fall there was fated.



  • They are wandering about harassing villages, plundering, and making slaves.

    In the Mahdi's Grasp

    George Manville Fenn

  • Toil was unknown; the toil that we know, menial, degrading and harassing.

    Mizora: A Prophecy

    Mary E. Bradley

British Dictionary definitions for harassing



(tr) to trouble, torment, or confuse by continual persistent attacks, questions, etc
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 harassing



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper