transitive verbha·rassed, ha·rass·ing, ha·rass·es
- To subject (another) to hostile or prejudicial remarks or actions; pressure or intimidate.
- To irritate or torment persistently: His mind was harassed by doubts and misgivings.
- To make repeated attacks or raids on (an enemy, for example).
Origin of harass
French harasser from
Old French (a la) harache, (a la) harace
( as in courre a la harache to chase
) hare call used to set dogs on
( of Germanic origin
; see ko-
in Indo-European roots.) -ache, -ace deprecative n. suff.
Usage Note: The pronunciation of harass with stress on the first syllable (rhyming roughly with Paris ) is the older, traditional pronunciation. The pronunciation with stress on the second syllable (rhyming roughly with surpass ) is a newer pronunciation that first occurred in American English. Its use has steadily increased since the mid-1900s. In our 1987 survey, 50 percent of the Usage Panel preferred the pronunciation with stress on the first syllable, and 50 percent preferred stress on the second syllable. Fourteen years later, in our 2001 survey, preference for stress on the first syllable dropped to 30 percent while preference for stress on the second syllable rose to 70 percent. The results from our 2013 survey suggest that this trend away from the traditional pronunciation has continued: only 10 percent preferred the stress on the first syllable, whereas 90 percent preferred the pronunciation with the stress on the second syllable. In fact, in 2013, 35 percent of the Panel considered the pronunciation with the stress on the first syllable to be unacceptable. The original pronunciation has almost completely given way in only a few decades, at least in the United States.