Harpy

[hahr-pee]
noun, plural Har·pies.
  1. Classical Mythology. a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman's head and a bird's body.
  2. (lowercase) a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew.
  3. (lowercase) a greedy, predatory person.

Origin of Harpy

< Latin Harpȳia, singular of Harpȳiae < Greek Hárpȳiai (plural), literally, snatchers, akin to harpázein to snatch away
Related formsharp·y·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for harpies

shrew, vixen, virago, nag, hag, swindler, shark, Shylock, Xanthippe

Examples from the Web for harpies

Historical Examples of harpies


British Dictionary definitions for harpies

harpy

noun plural -pies
  1. a cruel grasping woman

Word Origin for harpy

C16: from Latin Harpyia, from Greek Harpuiai the Harpies, literally: snatchers, from harpazein to seize

Harpy

noun plural -pies
  1. Greek myth a ravenous creature with a woman's head and trunk and a bird's wings and claws
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 harpies

harpy

n.

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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

harpies in Culture

Harpies

Vicious winged beings in classical mythology, often depicted as birds with women's faces. In the story of Jason, they steal or spoil an old blind man's food, leaving a terrible odor behind them.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.