- 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 harpy
Madame Beattie was a familiar name to them, but they had never heard she was a harpy.The Prisoner
It was also the day of the man behind the bar, of the gambler, of the harpy.The Trail of '98
Robert W. Service
“Harpy it might have been, but happy it was not,” he answered with a groan.The Three Commanders
Their hands, when they possessed them, were like harpy claws.The House of Pride
One is bound to be courteous to a lady, even though that lady be a harpy.The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson
- a cruel grasping woman
- Greek myth a ravenous creature with a woman's head and trunk and a bird's wings and claws
Word Origin and History for harpy
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]