Definition of harass in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /həˈras/
Pronunciation: /ˈherəs/


[with object]
1Subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation: a warning to men harassing women at work
More example sentences
  • A pensioner who was harassed by aggressive beggars in Swindon town centre has backed a campaign to stop vagrants pestering shoppers for cash.
  • It would assume that anyone who says they don't own a car at all is lying and it would harass them continually with aggressive letters and vague threats.
  • Both harass the unemployed, pressuring them further into exploitative employment.
persecute, intimidate, hound, harry, plague, torment, bully, bedevil;
pester, bother, worry, disturb, trouble, provoke, stress
informal hassle, bug, ride, give someone a hard time, get on someone's case
1.1Make repeated small-scale attacks on (an enemy): the squadron’s task was to harass the retreating enemy forces
More example sentences
  • In addition the crusaders used light cavalry and horse archers in large numbers to harass the enemy, to scout, and to supplement the knights.
  • Our pilots were used to harassing the enemy by strafing rail and truck areas, infantry and anything that moved.
  • The wise general never gives battle but on favourable ground; and until he has found it, he manoeuvres, skirmishes, and harasses the enemy.
harry, attack, beleaguer, set upon, assail


Traditionally, the word harass has been pronounced with stress on the first syllable, as “HAR-us.” But the newer pronunciation that puts the stress on the second syllable ("huh-RAS") is increasingly more widespread and is considered standard. This is also true for harassed and harassment.



Example sentences
  • As a result of some histrionic accusations of being ‘sexist pornographers’ and sexual harassers, my friend and I were rousted from our beds by the campus Gestapo at a ridiculously early hour.
  • A large group of the harassers, led by a security policewoman, surrounded the car and yelled abuse.
  • It is akin to asking sexual harassers to assess themselves when it is obvious they find their behaviour acceptable on their own terms.


Example sentences
  • The trooper, still harassingly close behind, was also lingering and not turning on his lights.
  • Nowadays these artificial limitations are no longer bound to exploding online costs or harassingly slow connections.
  • If ‘activation’ should require that I had to apply to Adobe every time this happened, I'd consider it harassingly burdensome and unacceptable.


Early 17th century: from French harasser, from harer 'set a dog on', from Germanic hare, a cry urging a dog to attack.

  • This came from French in the early 17th century and is probably from harer ‘to set a dog on’. The notion of intimidation arose during the 19th century, with sexual harassment acquiring particular prominence in the 1970s. The sound and sense of harass may be similar to those of harry, but the two are unrelated: harry (Old English) goes back to an ancient root meaning ‘army, host’, which also gave us the bird called a harrier (mid 16th century), but not the dogs (Late Middle English), which got their name from the hares they were bred to hunt.

Words that rhyme with harass

Arras, embarrass

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ha·rass

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words