harem (n.) Look up harem at Dictionary.com
1630s, "part of a Middle Eastern house reserved for women," from Turkish harem, from Arabic haram "wives and concubines," originally "women's quarters," literally "something forbidden or kept safe," from root of harama "he guarded, forbade." From 1784 in English as "wives, female relatives and female slaves in a Middle Eastern household." The harem-skirt was introduced in fashion 1911. Harem pants attested from 1921; fashionable c. 1944.
hark (v.) Look up hark at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, from Old English *heorcian "to hearken, listen," perhaps an intensive form from base of hieran (see hear). Compare talk/tale. Cognate with Old Frisian harkia "listen," Middle Dutch horken, Old High German horechon, German horchen. Used as a hunting cry to call attention. To hark back (1817) originally referred to hounds returning along a track when the scent has been lost, till they find it again (1814). Related: Harked; harking.
harken (v.) Look up harken at Dictionary.com
variant of hearken.
Harleian (adj.) Look up Harleian at Dictionary.com
1744, from Latinized form of surname of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford (1661-1724) and his son Edward, in reference to the library of several thousand books and MSS they collected and sold in 1753 to the British Museum.
Harlem Look up Harlem at Dictionary.com
Manhattan district, used figuratively for "African-American culture" by 1925. The N.Y. community was founded 1658 and originally named Nieuw Haarlem for Haarlem in Netherlands, which probably is from Dutch haar "height" + lem "silt," in reference to its position on a slight elevation on the banks of the Spaarne River. The black population grew rapidly in the decade after World War I. Related: Harlemese.
Harlemite (n.) Look up Harlemite at Dictionary.com
1890, from Harlem + -ite (1).
harlequin (n.) Look up harlequin at Dictionary.com
1580s, Harlicken, one of the stock characters of Italian commedia del'arte, from Middle French harlequin, from Italian arlecchino, which is possibly from the same source as Old French Herlequin, Hellequin, etc., leader of la maisnie Hellequin, a troop of demons who rode the night air on horses. This is perhaps of Germanic origin; he seems to correspond to Old English Herla cyning "King Herla," mythical character sometimes identified as Woden, and possibly also to German Erlkönig, the "Elf King" of the Goethe poem. Sometimes also associated with Herrequin, 9c. count of Boulogne, who was proverbially wicked. In English pantomime, a mute character who carries a magic wand. From his ludicrous dress comes the English adjective meaning "particolored" (1779).
Harley Look up Harley at Dictionary.com
surname attested from mid-12c., literally "dweller at the hares' wood." Harley Street in London from the 1830s was associated with eminent physicians and used metonymically for "medical specialists collectively." As a type of motorcycle, by 1968, short for Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle manufacturer founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., 1905 by engine designer William S. Harley (1880-1943) and Arthur Davidson.
harlot (n.) Look up harlot at Dictionary.com
c. 1200 (late 12c. in surnames), "vagabond, man of no fixed occupation, idle rogue," from Old French herlot, arlot "vagabond, tramp, vagrant; rascal, scoundrel," with cognates in Old Provençal (arlot), Old Spanish (arlote), and Italian (arlotto), but of unknown origin. Usually male in Middle English and Old French. Used in positive as well as pejorative senses by Chaucer; applied in Middle English to jesters, buffoons, jugglers, later to actors. Secondary sense of "prostitute, unchaste woman" probably had developed by 14c., certainly by early 15c., but this was reinforced by its use euphemistically for "strumpet, whore" in 16c. English translations of the Bible. The word may be Germanic, with an original sense of "camp follower," if the first element is hari "army," as some suspect.
harlotry (n.) Look up harlotry at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "loose, crude, or obscene behavior; sexual immorality; ribald talk or jesting," from harlot + -ry.
harm (n.) Look up harm at Dictionary.com
Old English hearm "hurt, pain; evil, grief; insult," from Proto-Germanic *harmaz (source also of Old Saxon harm, Old Norse harmr "grief, sorrow," Old Frisian herm "insult; pain," Old High German harm, German Harm "grief, sorrow, harm"), from PIE *kormo- "pain." To be in harm's way is from 1660s.
harm (v.) Look up harm at Dictionary.com
Old English hearmian "to hurt, injure," from the noun (see harm (n.)). It has ousted Old English skeþþan (see scathe (v.)) in all but a few senses. Related: Harmed; harming.
harmful (adj.) Look up harmful at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from harm (n.) + -ful. Related: Harmfully. Old English had hearmful but the modern word probably is a Middle English formation.
harmless (adj.) Look up harmless at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "uninjured," from harm (n.) + -less. Meaning "without power or disposition to harm" is from 1530s. Related: Harmlessly; harmlessness.
harmonic (adj.) Look up harmonic at Dictionary.com
1560s, "relating to music," from Latin harmonicus, from Greek harmonikos "harmonic, musical, skilled in music," from harmonia (see harmony). From 1660s as "tuneful, harmonious; relating to harmony" (earlier as armonical "tuneful, harmonious," c. 1500). The noun, short for harmionic tone, is recorded from 1777. Related: Harmonically.
harmonica (n.) Look up harmonica at Dictionary.com
1762, coined by Ben Franklin as the name for a glass harmonica, from Latin fem. of harmonicus (see harmonic); modern sense of "reeded mouth organ" is 1873, American English, earlier harmonicon (1825).
harmonics (n.) Look up harmonics at Dictionary.com
also harmonicks, 1650s, from harmonic; also see -ics.
harmonious (adj.) Look up harmonious at Dictionary.com
1520s, "sounding together tunefully," from Middle French harmonieux (14c.), from harmonie (see harmony). In nonmusical use from 1630s. Related: Harmoniously; harmoniousness.
harmonist (n.) Look up harmonist at Dictionary.com
1742, "one skilled in musical harmony," from harmony + -ist. Also "writer who 'harmonizes' the parallel narratives of the Gospel" (1713) and "member of a communistic religious movement in Pennsylvania" (1824). From the former comes harmonistics (1859).
harmonium (n.) Look up harmonium at Dictionary.com
keyboard instrument, a kind of reed-organ popular late 19c. in homes and smaller churches, 1847, from French harmonium, from Greek harmonia (see harmony). Harmonium-like instruments predate the improved version patented 1840 in France by Alexandre Debain, who gave it the name.
harmonization (n.) Look up harmonization at Dictionary.com
1772, from harmonize + -ation.
harmonize (v.) Look up harmonize at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "play or sing in harmony," from French harmoniser (15c.), from Old French harmonie (see harmony). Meaning "be in harmony (with), go well together" is from 1620s. Transitive sense "bring into harmony" is from 1700; figurative sense "bring into agreement" is from 1767. Meaning "add harmony to (a melody)" is from 1790. Related: Harmonized; harmonizing.
harmony (n.) Look up harmony at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "combination of tones pleasing to the ear," from Old French harmonie, armonie "harmony," also the name of a musical instrument (12c.), from Latin harmonia, from Greek harmonia "agreement, concord of sounds," also as a proper name, the personification of music, literally "means of joining," used of ship-planks, etc., also "settled government, order," related to harmos "fastenings of a door; shoulder," from PIE *ar-ti-, from *ar- "to fit together" (see arm (n.1)). Modern scientific harmony, using combinations of notes to form chords, is from 16c. Sense of "agreement of feeling, concord" is from late 14c.
harness (n.) Look up harness at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "personal fighting equipment, body armor," also "armor or trappings of a war-horse," from Old French harnois, a noun of broad meaning: "arms, equipment; harness; male genitalia; tackle; household equipment" (12c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse *hernest "provisions for an army," from herr "army" (see harry (v.)) + nest "provisions" (see nostalgia). Non-military sense of "fittings for a beast of burden" is from early 14c. German Harnisch "harness, armor" is the French word, borrowed into Middle High German. The Celtic words are believed to be also from French, as are Spanish arnes, Portuguese arnez, Italian arnese. Prive harness (late 14c.) was a Middle English term for "sex organs."
harness (v.) Look up harness at Dictionary.com
"to put a harness on a draught animal," c. 1300, from Old French harneschier "make ready, equip, arm," from harnois (see harness (n.)); figurative sense "to control for use as power" is from 1690s. Related: Harnessed; harnessing.
Harold Look up Harold at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, Old Norse Haraldr, Old Danish, Old Swedish Harald, from Proto-Germanic *harja-waldaz "army commander." For first element, see harry; second element is related to Proto-Germanic *waldan, source of Old English wealdan (see wield). The name shares an etymology with herald (n.).
harp (n.) Look up harp at Dictionary.com
Old English hearpe "harp, stringed musical instrument played with the fingers," from Proto-Germanic *harpon- (source also of Old Saxon harpa "instrument of torture;" Old Norse harpa, Dutch harp, Old High German harpfa, German Harfe "harp") of uncertain origin. Late Latin harpa, source of words in some Romanic languages (Italian arpa, Spanish arpa, French harpe), is a borrowing from Germanic. Meaning "harmonica" is from 1887, short for mouth-harp. The harp seal (1784) is so called for the harp-shaped markings on its back.
harp (v.) Look up harp at Dictionary.com
Old English hearpian "to play on a harp;" see harp (n.). Cognate with Middle Dutch, Dutch harpen, Middle High German harpfen, German harfen. Figurative sense of "talk overmuch" (about something), "dwell exclusively on one subject" first recorded mid-15c. Related: Harped; harping.
harper (n.) Look up harper at Dictionary.com
Old English hearpere "one who plays the harp," agent noun from harp (v.). As a surname from late 12c. Compare Middle High German harpfære, German Harfner.
harpist (n.) Look up harpist at Dictionary.com
"one who plays the harp," 1610s, a hybrid from Germanic harp (n.) + Greek -ist.
harpoon (n.) Look up harpoon at Dictionary.com
1610s, from French harpon, from Old French harpon "cramp iron, clamp, clasp" (described as a mason's tool for fastening stones together), from harper "to grapple, grasp," which is of uncertain origin. It is possibly of Germanic origin; or the French word might be from Latin harpa "hook" (related to harpagonem "grappling hook"), from Greek harpe "sickle," from PIE root *serp- (1) "sickle, hook." Earlier word for it was harping-iron (mid-15c.). Sense and spelling perhaps influenced by Dutch (compare Middle Dutch harpoen) or Basque, the language of the first European whaling peoples, who often accompanied English sailors on their early expeditions. Also see -oon.
harpoon (v.) Look up harpoon at Dictionary.com
1747, from harpoon (n.). Related: Harpooned; harpooning. Agent-noun form harpooner is from 1726; harpooneer from 1610s.
harpsichord (n.) Look up harpsichord at Dictionary.com
1610s, from French harpechorde "harp string," from Modern Latin harpichordium (source also of Italian arpicordo), from harpa (see harp (n.)) + chorda "string" (see cord). The unexplained intrusive -s- in the English word is there by 1660s.
harpy (n.) Look up harpy at Dictionary.com
winged monster of ancient mythology, late 14c., from Old French harpie (14c.), from Latin harpyia, from Greek Harpyia (plural), literally "snatchers," which is probably related to harpazein "to snatch" (see rapid (adj.)). Metaphoric extension to "repulsively 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]
harridan (n.) Look up harridan at Dictionary.com
1700, "one that is half Whore, half Bawd" ["Dictionary of the Canting Crew"]; "a decayed strumpet" [Johnson], probably from French haridelle "a poore tit, or leane ill-favored jade," [Cotgrave's French-English dictionary, 1611], attested in French from 16c., a word of unknown origin.
harrier (n.) Look up harrier at Dictionary.com
"small hunting dog," 1540s, from Middle English hayrer (c. 1400), of uncertain origin. Possibly from Middle French errier "wanderer" [Barnhart], or associated with hare (n.), which they would have hunted. Influenced by harry (v.). The hawk genus (1550s) is from harry (v.).
Harriet Look up Harriet at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, fem. of Harry.
We think that gentlemen lose a particle of their respect for young ladies who allow their names to be abbreviated into such cognomens as Kate, Madge, Bess, Nell, &c. Surely it is more lady-like to be called Catharine, Margaret, Eliza, or Ellen. We have heard the beautiful name Virginia degraded into Jinny; and Harriet called Hatty, or even Hadge. [Eliza Leslie, "Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book," Philadelphia, 1839]
Nautical slang Harriet Lane "preserved meat" (1896) is the name of the victim of a notorious murder in which it was alleged the killer chopped up her body.
Harris Look up Harris at Dictionary.com
surname, attested from c. 1400 (Harrys), from "Harry," the popular pronunciation of Henry. As a type of tweed (1892), it is from the name of the southern section of the island of Lewis with Harris in the Outer Hebrides; originally it referred to fabric produced by the inhabitants there, later a proprietary name. That place name represents Gaelic na-h-earaidh "that which is higher," in comparison to the lower Lewis. Harrisburg, capital of Pennsylvania, is named for ferryman John Harris (1727-1791), son of the original European settler.
harrow (n.) Look up harrow at Dictionary.com
agricultural implement, heavy wooden rake, c. 1300, haru, probably from an unrecorded Old English *hearwa, apparently related to Old Norse harfr "harrow," and perhaps connected with harvest (n.). Or possibly from hergian (see harry (v.)).
harrow (v.1) Look up harrow at Dictionary.com
"to drag a harrow over, break or tear with a harrow," c. 1300, from harrow (n.). In the figurative sense of "wound the feelings, distress greatly" it is first attested c. 1600 in Shakespeare. Related: Harrowed; harrowing.
harrow (v.2) Look up harrow at Dictionary.com
"to ravage, despoil," especially in harrowing of Hell in Christian theology, early 14c., from Old English hergian "to ravage, plunder; seize, capture" (see harry (v.)). Related: Harrowed; harrowing.
harrowing (adj.) Look up harrowing at Dictionary.com
"extremely distressing, painful," 1799 (implied in harrowingly), from present participle of harrow (v.).
harrumph Look up harrumph at Dictionary.com
representing the sound of clearing the throat or a disapproving noise, 1918, imitative. Related: Harrumphed; harrumphing.
harry (v.) Look up harry at Dictionary.com
Old English hergian "make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder," the word used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for what the Vikings did to England, from Proto-Germanic *harjon (source also of Old Frisian urheria "lay waste, ravage, plunder," Old Norse herja "to make a raid, to plunder," Old Saxon and Old High German herion, German verheeren "to destroy, lay waste, devastate"). This is literally "to overrun with an army," from Proto-Germanic *harjaz "an armed force" (source also of Old English here, Old Norse herr "crowd, great number; army, troop," Old Saxon and Old Frisian heri, Dutch heir, Old High German har, German Heer, Gothic harjis "a host, army").

The Germanic words come from PIE root *koro- "war" also "war-band, host, army" (source also of Lithuanian karas "war, quarrel," karias "host, army;" Old Church Slavonic kara "strife;" Middle Irish cuire "troop;" Old Persian kara "host, people, army;" Greek koiranos "ruler, leader, commander"). Weakened sense of "worry, goad, harass" is from c. 1400. Related: Harried; harrying.
Harry Look up Harry at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, a familiar form of Henry. Weekley takes the overwhelming number of Harris and Harrison surnames as evidence that "Harry," not "Henry," was the Middle English pronunciation of Henry. Compare Harriet, English equivalent of French Henriette, fem. diminutive of Henri.
harsh (adj.) Look up harsh at Dictionary.com
originally of texture, "hairy," 1530s, probably from Middle English harske "rough, coarse, sour" (c. 1300), a northern word of Scandinavian origin (compare Danish and Norwegian harsk "rancid, rank"), related to Middle Low German harsch "rough, raw," German harst "a rake;" perhaps from PIE root *kars- "to scrape, scratch, rub, card" (source also of Lithuanian karsiu "to comb," Old Church Slavonic krasta, Russian korosta "to itch," Latin carduus "thistle," Sanskrit kasati "rubs, scratches"). Meaning "offensive to feelings" is from 1570s; that of "disagreeable, rude" from 1610s.
harsh (v.) Look up harsh at Dictionary.com
1580s, "sound harshly," from harsh (adj.). Meaning "make harsh, subject to harshness" is by 1991. Related: Harshed; harshing. Harshen is attested from 1821.
harshly (adv.) Look up harshly at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from harsh (adj.) + -ly (2).
harshness (n.) Look up harshness at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from harsh (adj.) + -ness.
hart (n.) Look up hart at Dictionary.com
Old English heorot "hart, stag, male of the red deer," from Proto-Germanic *herutaz (source also of Old Saxon hirot, Old Frisian and Dutch hert "stag, deer," Old High German hiruz, Old Norse hjörtr, German Hirsch "deer, stag, hart"), perhaps from PIE *keru-, extended form of root *ker- (1) "horn" (see horn (n.)). In later times, a male deer after its fifth year, when the crown antler has appeared. The female is a hind (n.).