Definition of harness in English:



  • 1A set of straps and fittings by which a horse or other draught animal is fastened to a cart, plough, etc. and is controlled by its driver.

    • ‘He surrenders the leather reins, and the harnesses all festooned with bells.’
    • ‘The ancient horse harness was no more and no less efficient than the famous horse collar of the eleventh century.’
    • ‘It is full of pictures of men and women in bits, harnesses and hooves pulling carts, and trainers riding or ‘showing’ their ‘ponies.’’
    • ‘Two of those main factors were the inventions of the chest harness for the horse and the three-field system of agriculture.’
    • ‘We found several other well preserved bronze objects, many likely to be items of horse harness.’
    • ‘Both collars for larger animals and harnesses for smaller ones have been designed to carry Crittercam systems.’
    • ‘With driving time at a premium, modern carriages and synthetic harnesses make life a lot easier.’
    • ‘Here you can see intricate jewel-encrusted horse harnesses or the gold block designs on white headscarves.’
    • ‘The accompanying drudgery was worth it and if you have ever tried to lift a set of heavy horse harness you will have some idea of the effort required.’
    • ‘Sheera stands next to him, the horse's harness still in her grip.’
    • ‘Nash was pleased to see that Fric had padded and rigged the horse's harnesses for silence, as well as shoeing their hoofs with leather covers to muffle their trot.’
    • ‘However, small items such as brooches and horse harnesses made out of recycled bronze in native styles have occasionally been found at forts.’
    • ‘Among the discoveries was the rich burial of a young man, buried with weapons, vessels of wood and bronze, and horse harness, his horse buried alongside in a separate grave.’
    • ‘It also includes used animal trappings such as harnesses, saddles, halters, reins, rope and chain.’
    • ‘Cyril intercepted them, grabbing the near horse's harness and steering them to the rings set in the outside of the barn and tying them there.’
    • ‘There were two sturdy draft harnesses drawing the cart, slowly as is their wont.’
    • ‘Iron components of the chariot were found in a good state of preservation, including the two wheel rims and hub - hoops, the yoke fittings, harness and horse bits.’
    • ‘He was diminutive, and how he managed to lift the heavy harness on the draught horses for ploughing was more than I could understand.’
    • ‘Incredible finds from the square barrow grave dating from the third or fourth century included richly ornamented pieces of horse harness and parts from the wheels of the chariot.’
    • ‘I went about my usual morning routine, feeding Angel Wing and the pull horses, and putting on the harnesses for the carts.’
    tack, tackle, equipment, trappings, straps, yoke
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    1. 1.1 An arrangement of straps for fastening something such as a parachute to a person's body or for restraining a young child.
      • ‘We climbed back up the cliff face then strapped into our harnesses for the abseil.’
      • ‘I had a long walk out hauling my glider and harness on my kayak cart, but got to the party in time.’
      • ‘Gino's grip tightened and he strained against the strap of his harness.’
      • ‘The Doctor rambled on, as he checked the leads from the computer to the harness strapped tight to Tanj's head.’
      • ‘The assistant who was about a nineteen-year-old boy helped us into the harness as we strapped on our helmets.’
      • ‘Another piece of fall-prevention equipment is a wrist harness.’
      • ‘She double-checked the harness fastening her to the basket.’
      • ‘Still humming, Ethan fastened the harness around Giles's arms, like hers, so he couldn't lift his hands more than a couple inches, once he woke up.’
      • ‘He was not injured except for a few scratches and black and blue marks over both shoulders caused by the harness straps when the chute opened.’
      • ‘There was no gravity inside the small pod so the two survivors were strapped into harnesses to keep from floating around.’
      • ‘A flight attendant helped me fasten my flight harness.’
      • ‘I closed my car door and strapped the racing harness on.’
      • ‘As soon as he strapped his harness around him, he felt the transition as Costanza deactivated the artificial gravity field.’
      • ‘Then there is the issue that Bo's accident highlights, where he neglected to attach the chute bridle to the harness.’
      • ‘The second was that I refused to allow myself to be harnessed to a particular parent on a climbing wall.’
      • ‘Their eyes, all four of them, rolled and showed white as the harnesses were strapped to them, mindful of the spikes that traveled down their spines, sharp and menacing.’
      • ‘Bill moved to the other seat on the bridge and fastened the harness across his waist and chest.’
      • ‘Quickly and quietly they strapped themselves into the harnesses and forced the silver doors open.’
      • ‘I love staking the gliders into the wind and hanging the harness from the hang strap to balance it out - a dynamic stability, like flying.’
      • ‘Mr Howland, who always gave instructions to fasten the harnesses before they started cleaning the windows, went to check on the other three men working on different levels of the building when the tragedy happened.’
      belt, strap
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[with object]
  • 1Put a harness on (a horse or other draught animal)

    ‘how to groom a horse and harness it’
    ‘the horse was harnessed to two long shafts’
    • ‘A photograph in the late Jess Chandler's History of Marlborough shows the horses harnessed to the fire engine in front of the town hall.’
    • ‘Outside the door Osred was harnessing two horses to the waggon.’
    • ‘But of course the great plan, the master plan for the property is to one day lay down a track, to harness up a horse, and start jogging one up and learn to drive.’
    • ‘With Theseus, she would want him to harness the horse, guide the chariot, take the sword.’
    • ‘In some cases horned animals are harnessed to simple ploughs.’
    • ‘There was a hay cart with a horse harnessed to it.’
    • ‘James returned as the morning was fading into the afternoon, a second horse harnessed to his.’
    • ‘He harnessed the two horses and led them outside the front door to wait for Ashe.’
    • ‘After gathering a little food for the journey, they harnessed her pony and set off into the night.’
    • ‘Cantus paused mid-step, his eyes on the freakish beast that was harnessed to the cart.’
    • ‘Monkeys were dressed as soldiers and rode atop goats harnessed to a small chariot.’
    • ‘Goundsman John Yates each week would harness a horse named Jenny to the club roller.’
    • ‘We harnessed up horses after that and tied down the covers on wagons that no longer had anyone to steer them.’
    • ‘On the other side, Silent George harnessed an old mare and headed out to the edge of his farm near the river.’
    • ‘Two horses were harnessed to a small cart that rattled along near the back of the single-file.’
    hitch up, put something in harness, saddle, yoke, couple
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  • 2Control and make use of (natural resources), especially to produce energy.

    ‘attempts to harness solar energy’
    figurative ‘projects that harness the creativity of those living in the ghetto’
    • ‘‘Ireland should be harnessing its natural resources and should be a net exporter of power rather than an importer,’ he said.’
    • ‘It is designed to harness the energy contained in ocean waves to produce electricity.’
    • ‘Today's windmills are entirely computerized, with sensors that allow them to turn into the wind to harness energy as efficiently as possible.’
    • ‘This technology is harnessed to provide heat for buildings of all kinds.’
    • ‘The center harnesses the nature's energy in a number of ways to save energy costs and the environment.’
    • ‘But now they're also realizing the power of this gushing water can be harnessed to produce electricity.’
    • ‘An excellent example of successfully harnessing solar energy was demonstrated to the world at the Sydney Olympic Park last month.’
    • ‘A waste to energy plant where heat generated in the process will be harnessed to provide enough power for 50,000 homes.’
    • ‘All the same, these conditions have long proved impossible to sustain in physicists attempts to harness nuclear fusion for energy generation.’
    • ‘Wind energy and solar power could be harnessed to heat the dwellings and provide enough energy for daily needs.’
    • ‘Now, its silent power is to be harnessed to help provide electricity for Windsor Castle in a scheme that underlines the Royal family's green credentials.’
    • ‘Once in place they will harness the wind's energy and produce enough electricity to power over 500 homes.’
    • ‘In January Wavegen was awarded a £2.1m grant to develop a new prototype to harness wave energy.’
    • ‘Also, they speculated that uranium perhaps could be harnessed to replace coal or oil as a fuel for industrial power plants.’
    • ‘He will have made a machine that can harness the energy of the ocean's tides.’
    • ‘In this way, the energy released by the exergonic reaction can be partially harnessed to drive the endergonic one.’
    • ‘Each electrical appliance harnesses the energy of electrons in some way to create a useful side effect.’
    • ‘The rapids have since been harnessed to provide the city with hydroelectricity.’
    • ‘We ought to be continuing to research and spend research dollars to make sure that we're able to properly harness nuclear energy without harming the environment.’
    • ‘The system would have produced 3.5 megawatts - the five turbines being designed to harness tidal energy and turn it into electricity.’
    control, exploit, utilize, use, make use of, put to use, render useful, make productive, turn to good account
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  • in harness

    • 1(of a horse or other animal) used for driving or draught work.

      ‘colts are worked in harness alongside an experienced horse’
      • ‘It is also true that the Monarchy and ‘Establishment’ were more often at odds than not, like ill-matched horses in harness.’
      • ‘The solution in Hollywood historical epics is to have a boy turning the spit, or as was more common in real life, a dog in harness working a gear system.’
      • ‘I think he saw them like horses in harness some of which were trying to run in different directions.’
      • ‘Pegasus trots in harness, over the stony pavement, and pulls a cart or a cab behind him.’
      • ‘But by early June the bulls were back in harness.’
      • ‘Horses played a big part in life on the farm, and the family were either riding them or working them in harness every day.’
      • ‘Even though mules could carry heavier loads, cost less to run and were more surefooted, they were increasingly used in harness to pull wagons, not as pack animals.’
      1. 1.1In the routine of daily work.
        ‘a man who died in harness far beyond the normal age of retirement’
        • ‘They were boosted by the return from injury of Nigerian international Jay Jay Okocha, who was back in harness after a four-match lay-off with a hamstring problem.’
        • ‘Now that Gordon is back in harness at the club, plans are afoot to create a section of the Bury FC website devoted to the history of the club.’
        • ‘It knocked her out - but she will be back in harness tomorrow at an investiture at Buckingham palace.’
        • ‘Firstly France, with their star fly-half back in harness, won revenge for their previous defeat, thumping Scotland by a whopping 61-0.’
        • ‘Back in harness after spells together at Newcastle and with England, the pair aim to inject more steel into a side that is beginning to earn the reputation of having a soft underbelly.’
        • ‘The honour of wearing number 2 fell to John Douglas, who also got to carry the commemorative mailbag celebrating Percy's 40 years in harness.’
        • ‘He hasn't resumed his GAA duties in full yet just yet, but the expectation is that he will be back in harness to chair the first meeting of 2003 of the incoming divisional board next month.’
        • ‘The former Gloucestershire president who has held virtually every office at Knowle, was back in harness at the South West match against the British Universities at Bath.’
        • ‘In the Premier Division Kendal Town striker David Foster was back in harness for his old club Kirkby Lonsdale and his goal brought them a point in a 1-1 draw with CCM Dynamos.’
        • ‘Tipp will probably go in as the marginal favourites now that their most prolific scorer Declan Browne is back in harness.’
        • ‘A series of substitutes helped Wright after the former Welsh international was laid low by a mild stroke, but he is now back in harness.’
        at work, working, employed, in an occupation, in action, active, busy
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      2. 1.2So as to achieve something together.
        ‘local and central government should work in harness’
        • ‘Sure, you're going to have occasional missteps as people get better acquainted and work in harness together.’
        • ‘The global threat to our nations by multi-national banks and companies working in harness with the ruling class is having a destructive effect on our peoples.’
        • ‘And once again it was Reape who came good, this time bowling in harness with Mark Beckett.’
        • ‘Woodgate has brought some more reassurance, but it is only when Ferdinand and Woodgate are in harness that they really look the part at the back.’
        • ‘With the two of them in harness - probably some time next month - they will forge part of a powerful front five, especially because England hooker Phil Greening is close to making his comeback from injury.’
        • ‘Progress remained slow after lunch and Somerset were only 120-2 after 50 overs but the over rate perked up as Dawson and Gray operated in harness.’
        • ‘Within a couple of weeks he'd sealed the deal that will put the two world class playmakers in harness, delighting Wanderers' fans.’
        • ‘She is even ready to be a partner to Bart instead of a domineering wife: ‘Today she wanted him to know that they pulled in harness together’.’
        • ‘Lehmann and Byas were already in harness when Yorkshire resumed the second day on 144 for three.’
        • ‘However, spinners Mark Bell and Dan Broadbent got together in harness to share nine victims.’


Middle English: from Old French harneis ‘military equipment’, from Old Norse, from herr ‘army’ + nest ‘provisions’.