Share this entry

harpy Line breaks: harpy
Pronunciation: /ˈhɑːpi/

Definition of harpy in English:

noun (plural harpies)

1 Greek & Roman Mythology A rapacious monster described as having a woman’s head and body and a bird’s wings and claws or depicted as a bird of prey with a woman’s face.
Example sentences
  • The harpy woman shook her wings and let out a blood curdling cry from the depths of her throat, raising goose bumps on my arms.
  • Hybrid creatures, such as sphinxes, harpies, sirens, griffons and centaurs, carved on Roman sarcophagi, candelabras, altars and temple friezes, were a direct source of artistic inspiration.
  • The harpy, whose name was derived from the Greek word arpazo, ‘to seize’, was a monstrous female demon of insatiable hunger, known as temptress, seductress and tormenter of victims.
2A grasping, unpleasant woman: clearly, he had us down as a couple of gold-digging harpies
More example sentences
  • Surely this wasn't the cold-hearted harpy that had spurned my affections.
  • From what we see, Clare has an intuitive sympathy with children, while Mrs Trevel, far from being a bearer of hidden wisdom, is actually a vengeful harpy.
  • I feel like a heartless harpy for having these feelings, but ultimately, I feel stifled by him, nay even negated.


Late Middle English: from Latin harpyia, from Greek harpuiai 'snatchers'.

Words that rhyme with harpy

okapi, serape, sharpie

Definition of harpy in:

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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwäˈfər
a hairdresser