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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English harow, harowe, haru, harwe, from Old English *hearwe or *hearge (perhaps ultimately cognate with harvest), or from Old Norse harfr/herfi[1]; compare Danish harve (harrow), Dutch hark (rake). Akin to Latin carpere.


harrow (plural harrows)

  1. A device consisting of a heavy framework having several disks or teeth in a row, which is dragged across ploughed land to smooth or break up the soil, to remove weeds or cover seeds; a harrow plow.
    • 1918, Louise & Aylmer Maude, trans. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Oxford 1998, p. 153:
      He sent for the carpenter, who was under contract to be with the threshing-machine, but it turned out that he was mending the harrows, which should have been mended the week before Lent.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter X:
      “It may be fun for her,” I said with one of my bitter laughs, “but it isn't so diverting for the unfortunate toads beneath the harrow whom she plunges so ruthlessly in the soup.”
    • 1969, Bessie Head, When Rain Clouds Gather, Heinemann 1995, p. 28:
      Part of your job would be to learn tractor ploughing and the use of planters, harrows, and cultivators.
  2. (military) An obstacle formed by turning an ordinary harrow upside down, the frame being buried.
See alsoEdit


harrow (third-person singular simple present harrows, present participle harrowing, simple past and past participle harrowed)

  1. (transitive) To drag a harrow over; to break up with a harrow.
    • Bible, Job xxxix. 10
      Will he harrow the valleys after thee?
    • 1719 Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      When the corn was sown, I had no harrow, but was forced to go over it myself, and drag a great heavy bough of a tree over it, to scratch it, as it may be called, rather than rake or harrow it.
  2. (transitive) To traumatize or disturb; to frighten or torment.
  3. (transitive) To break or tear, as if with a harrow; to wound; to lacerate; to torment or distress; to vex.
    • Rowe
      my aged muscles harrowed up with whips
    • Shakespeare
      I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word / Would harrow up thy soul.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English harrow, harrowe, haro, from Old French haro, harou, harau, harol, from Frankish *harot, *hara (here; hither), akin to Old Saxon herod, Old High German herot, Middle Dutch hare.



  1. (obsolete) A call for help, or of distress, alarm etc.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene,
      Harrow, the flames, which me consume (said hee) / Ne can be quencht, within my secret bowels bee.


  1. ^ According to ODS eng. harrow maaske laant fra nordisk, Eng. harrow probably loaned from Norse