Definition of harness in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhärnəs/


Image of harness
1A set of straps and fittings by which a horse or other draft animal is fastened to a cart, plow, etc., and is controlled by its driver.
Example sentences
  • He was diminutive, and how he managed to lift the heavy harness on the draught horses for ploughing was more than I could understand.
  • Iron components of the chariot were found in a good state of preservation, including the two wheel rims and hub - hoops, the yoke fittings, harness and horse bits.
  • I went about my usual morning routine, feeding Angel Wing and the pull horses, and putting on the harnesses for the carts.
tack, tackle, equipment;
archaic equipage
1.1An arrangement of straps for fastening something to a person’s body, such as a parachute, or for restraining a young child.
Example sentences
  • The second was that I refused to allow myself to be harnessed to a particular parent on a climbing wall.
  • The assistant who was about a nineteen-year-old boy helped us into the harness as we strapped on our helmets.
  • The Doctor rambled on, as he checked the leads from the computer to the harness strapped tight to Tanj's head.


[with object]
1Put a harness on (a horse or other draft animal).
Example sentences
  • Two horses were harnessed to a small cart that rattled along near the back of the single-file.
  • James returned as the morning was fading into the afternoon, a second horse harnessed to his.
  • A photograph in the late Jess Chandler's History of Marlborough shows the horses harnessed to the fire engine in front of the town hall.
hitch up, put in harness, yoke, couple
1.1 (harness something to) Attach a draft animal to (something) by a harness: the horse was harnessed to two long shafts
More example sentences
  • The following night at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the sight of a toboggan gave Jones the idea of harnessing the dogs to haul their packs.
  • The priest began the difficult task of harnessing the horse to the front of his heavily laden wagon.
  • Early in the morning, Elizabeth harnessed the horses to the one person buggy.
2Control and make use of (natural resources), especially to produce energy: attempts to harness solar energy figurative projects that harness the creativity of those living in the ghetto
More example sentences
  • All the same, these conditions have long proved impossible to sustain in physicists attempts to harness nuclear fusion for energy generation.
  • ‘Ireland should be harnessing its natural resources and should be a net exporter of power rather than an importer,’ he said.
  • The system would have produced 3.5 megawatts - the five turbines being designed to harness tidal energy and turn it into electricity.
control, exploit, utilize, use, employ, make use of, put to use;
channel, mobilize, apply, capitalize on


in harness

(Of a horse or other animal) used for driving or draft work.
Example sentences
  • It is also true that the Monarchy and ‘Establishment’ were more often at odds than not, like ill-matched horses in harness.
  • I think he saw them like horses in harness some of which were trying to run in different directions.
  • Even though mules could carry heavier loads, cost less to run and were more surefooted, they were increasingly used in harness to pull wagons, not as pack animals.
1.1In the routine of daily work: a man who died in harness far beyond the normal age of retirement
More example sentences
  • The honour of wearing number 2 fell to John Douglas, who also got to carry the commemorative mailbag celebrating Percy's 40 years in harness.
  • Tipp will probably go in as the marginal favourites now that their most prolific scorer Declan Browne is back in harness.
  • It knocked her out - but she will be back in harness tomorrow at an investiture at Buckingham palace.
1.2Working closely with someone to achieve something: local and central government should work in harness
More example sentences
  • Sure, you're going to have occasional missteps as people get better acquainted and work in harness together.
  • However, spinners Mark Bell and Dan Broadbent got together in harness to share nine victims.
  • She is even ready to be a partner to Bart instead of a domineering wife: ‘Today she wanted him to know that they pulled in harness together’.



Example sentences
  • Bedaux had made his fortune as one of the greatest harnessers of mass labor since the Pharoahs.
  • As harnessers of power, both have evoked great awe and admiration as human conquerors of nature.
  • The masks serve as both visual aids in the portrayal of Bali's courtly legends and as harnessers of invisible forces.


Middle English: from Old French harneis 'military equipment', from Old Norse, from herr 'army' + nest 'provisions'.

Words that rhyme with harness


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: har·ness

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