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1Greek Mythology Roman Mythology
A rapacious monster described as having a woman's head and body and a bird's wings and claws or depicted as a bird of prey with a woman's face.
- ‘The harpy, whose name was derived from the Greek word arpazo, ‘to seize’, was a monstrous female demon of insatiable hunger, known as temptress, seductress and tormenter of victims.’
- ‘Hybrid creatures, such as sphinxes, harpies, sirens, griffons and centaurs, carved on Roman sarcophagi, candelabras, altars and temple friezes, were a direct source of artistic inspiration.’
- ‘The harpy woman shook her wings and let out a blood curdling cry from the depths of her throat, raising goose bumps on my arms.’
- ‘In the old Greek stories harpies were agents of divine retribution unleashed on those who victimized others by violence.’
- ‘Banished to the seventh circle of hell and turned into burning trees, Dante's suicides are fed upon by harpies for all eternity.’
2A grasping, unpleasant woman.‘clearly, he had us down as a couple of gold-digging harpies’
- ‘He is not alone in his depravity, however; his mistress is an opportunistic parvenu, and his wife is a merciless harpy.’
- ‘From what we see, Clare has an intuitive sympathy with children, while Mrs Trevel, far from being a bearer of hidden wisdom, is actually a vengeful harpy.’
- ‘Surely this wasn't the cold-hearted harpy that had spurned my affections.’
- ‘I don't know about anyone else, but I find it a little hard to identify with a shrieking harpy.’
- ‘I feel like a heartless harpy for having these feelings, but ultimately, I feel stifled by him, nay even negated.’
Late Middle English: from Latin harpyia, from Greek harpuiai ‘snatchers’.
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