[ hahr-nis ]
See synonyms for: harnessharnessedharnessesharnessing on Thesaurus.com

  1. the combination of straps, bands, and other parts forming the working gear of a draft animal.: Compare yoke1 (def. 1).

  2. (on a loom) the frame containing heddles through which the warp is drawn and which, in combination with another such frame or other frames, forms the shed and determines the woven pattern.

  1. the equipment, as straps, bolts, or gears, by which a large bell is mounted and rung.

  2. Electricity. wiring harness.

  3. armor for persons or horses.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put a harness on (a horse, donkey, dog, etc.); attach by a harness, as to a vehicle.

  2. to bring under conditions for effective use; gain control over for a particular end: to harness water power; to harness the energy of the sun.

  1. Archaic. to array in armor or equipments of war.

Idioms about harness

  1. in double harness. double harness (def. 2).

  2. in harness,

    • engaged in one's usual routine of work: After his illness he longed to get back in harness.

    • together as cooperating partners or equals: Joe and I worked in harness on our last job.

Origin of harness

1250–1300; Middle English harneis, herneis<Old French herneis baggage, equipment <Old Norse *hernest provisions for an armed force, equivalent to herr army (cf. harbor, herald) + nest provisions for a journey

Other words for harness

Other words from harness

  • har·ness·er, noun
  • har·ness·less, adjective
  • har·ness·like, adjective
  • re·har·ness, verb (used with object)
  • well-harnessed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use harness in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for harness


/ (ˈhɑːnɪs) /

  1. an arrangement of leather straps buckled or looped together, fitted to a draught animal in order that the animal can be attached to and pull a cart

  2. something resembling this, esp for attaching something to the body: a parachute harness

  1. mountaineering an arrangement of webbing straps that enables a climber to attach himself to the rope so that the impact of a fall is minimized

  2. the total system of electrical leads for a vehicle or aircraft

  3. weaving the part of a loom that raises and lowers the warp threads, creating the shed

  4. archaic armour collectively

  5. in harness at one's routine work

  1. to put harness on (a horse)

  2. (usually foll by to) to attach (a draught animal) by means of harness to (a cart, etc)

  1. to control so as to employ the energy or potential power of: to harness the atom

  2. to equip or clothe with armour

Origin of harness

C13: from Old French harneis baggage, probably from Old Norse hernest (unattested) provisions, from herr army + nest provisions

Derived forms of harness

  • harnesser, noun
  • harnessless, adjective
  • harness-like, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with harness


see die with one's boots on (in harness) in harness.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.