- Classical Mythology. a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman's head and a bird's body.
- (lowercase) a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew.
- (lowercase) a greedy, predatory person.
Origin of Harpy
Examples from the Web for harpies
Historical Examples of harpies
Harpies of this ilk are the bane of sight-seeing all the world over.The Confessions of a Caricaturist, Vol 2 (of 2)
At present nobody can save her from the hands of these harpies.The Home
What boys, then, owed money to these harpies as well as Ernest?The Way of All Flesh
This stranger was Astolpho, who drove the harpies to Cocy´tus.Character Sketches of Romance, Fiction and the Drama
E. Cobham Brewer
A moment or two afterwards the harpies had been upon him, and then he had gone off in his anger.Miss Mackenzie
- a cruel grasping woman
Word Origin for harpy
- Greek myth a ravenous creature with a woman's head and trunk and a bird's wings and claws
late 14c., from Old French harpie (14c.), from Greek Harpyia (plural), literally "snatchers," probably related to harpazein "to snatch" (see rapid). Metaphoric extension to "greedy person" is c.1400.
In Homer they are merely personified storm winds, who were believed to have carried off any person that had suddenly disappeared. In Hesiod they are fair-haired and winged maidens who surpass the winds in swiftness, and are called Aello and Ocypete; but in later writers they are represented as disgusting monsters, with heads like maidens, faces pale with hunger, and claws like those of birds. The harpies ministered to the gods as the executors of vengeance. ["American Cyclopædia," 1874]