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A harness on a capybara


From Middle English harneys, harnes, harneis, harnais, herneis, from Anglo-Norman harneis and Old French hernois (equipment used in battle), believed to be from Old Norse *hernest, from herr (army) + nest (provisions) (from Proto-Germanic *nesaną (to heal, recover)). More at harry.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhɑː(ɹ).nəs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɑː(ɹ)nəs


harness (countable and uncountable, plural harnesses)

  1. (countable) A restraint or support, especially one consisting of a loop or network of rope or straps, and especially one worn by a working animal such as a horse pulling a carriage or farm implement.
  2. (countable) A collection of wires or cables bundled and routed according to their function.
  3. (dated, uncountable) The complete dress, especially in a military sense, of a man or a horse; armour in general.
  4. The part of a loom comprising the heddles, with their means of support and motion, by which the threads of the warp are alternately raised and depressed for the passage of the shuttle.
  5. Equipment for any kind of labour.

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harness (third-person singular simple present harnesses, present participle harnessing, simple past and past participle harnessed)

  1. (transitive) To place a harness on something; to tie up or restrain.
    They harnessed the horse to the post.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
  2. (transitive) To capture, control or put to use.
    Imagine what might happen if it were possible to harness solar energy fully.
    • 2013 August 16, John Vidal, “Dams endanger ecology of Himalayas”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 10, page 8:
      Most of the Himalayan rivers have been relatively untouched by dams near their sources. Now the two great Asian powers, India and China, are rushing to harness them as they cut through some of the world's deepest valleys.
  3. (transitive) To equip with armour.


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