Definition of harness in US English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Two of those main factors were the inventions of the chest harness for the horse and the three-field system of agriculture.’
    • ‘The ancient horse harness was no more and no less efficient than the famous horse collar of the eleventh century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, small items such as brooches and horse harnesses made out of recycled bronze in native styles have occasionally been found at forts.’
    • ‘We found several other well preserved bronze objects, many likely to be items of horse harness.’
    • ‘It also includes used animal trappings such as harnesses, saddles, halters, reins, rope and chain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is full of pictures of men and women in bits, harnesses and hooves pulling carts, and trainers riding or ‘showing’ their ‘ponies.’’
    • ‘I went about my usual morning routine, feeding Angel Wing and the pull horses, and putting on the harnesses for the carts.’
    • ‘With driving time at a premium, modern carriages and synthetic harnesses make life a lot easier.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Both collars for larger animals and harnesses for smaller ones have been designed to carry Crittercam systems.’
    • ‘Here you can see intricate jewel-encrusted horse harnesses or the gold block designs on white headscarves.’
    • ‘There were two sturdy draft harnesses drawing the cart, slowly as is their wont.’
    • ‘He was diminutive, and how he managed to lift the heavy harness on the draught horses for ploughing was more than I could understand.’
    • ‘He surrenders the leather reins, and the harnesses all festooned with bells.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sheera stands next to him, the horse's harness still in her grip.’
    tack, tackle, equipment, trappings, straps, yoke
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    1. 1.1 An arrangement of straps for fastening something to a person's body, such as a parachute, or for restraining a young child.
      • ‘The Doctor rambled on, as he checked the leads from the computer to the harness strapped tight to Tanj's head.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The assistant who was about a nineteen-year-old boy helped us into the harness as we strapped on our helmets.’
      • ‘There was no gravity inside the small pod so the two survivors were strapped into harnesses to keep from floating around.’
      • ‘Bill moved to the other seat on the bridge and fastened the harness across his waist and chest.’
      • ‘The second was that I refused to allow myself to be harnessed to a particular parent on a climbing wall.’
      • ‘We climbed back up the cliff face then strapped into our harnesses for the abseil.’
      • ‘As soon as he strapped his harness around him, he felt the transition as Costanza deactivated the artificial gravity field.’
      • ‘I closed my car door and strapped the racing harness on.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I had a long walk out hauling my glider and harness on my kayak cart, but got to the party in time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Quickly and quietly they strapped themselves into the harnesses and forced the silver doors open.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She double-checked the harness fastening her to the basket.’
      • ‘Gino's grip tightened and he strained against the strap of his harness.’
      • ‘A flight attendant helped me fasten my flight harness.’
      • ‘Another piece of fall-prevention equipment is a wrist harness.’
      • ‘Then there is the issue that Bo's accident highlights, where he neglected to attach the chute bridle to the harness.’
      belt, strap
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[with object]
  • 1Put a harness on (a horse or other draft animal).

    • ‘In some cases horned animals are harnessed to simple ploughs.’
    • ‘There was a hay cart with a horse harnessed to it.’
    • ‘He harnessed the two horses and led them outside the front door to wait for Ashe.’
    • ‘Two horses were harnessed to a small cart that rattled along near the back of the single-file.’
    • ‘James returned as the morning was fading into the afternoon, a second horse harnessed to his.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On the other side, Silent George harnessed an old mare and headed out to the edge of his farm near the river.’
    • ‘With Theseus, she would want him to harness the horse, guide the chariot, take the sword.’
    • ‘After gathering a little food for the journey, they harnessed her pony and set off into the night.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cantus paused mid-step, his eyes on the freakish beast that was harnessed to the cart.’
    • ‘We harnessed up horses after that and tied down the covers on wagons that no longer had anyone to steer them.’
    hitch up, put something in harness, saddle, yoke, couple
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    1. 1.1harness something to Attach a draft animal to (something) by a harness.
      ‘the horse was harnessed to two long shafts’
      • ‘Early in the morning, Elizabeth harnessed the horses to the one person buggy.’
      • ‘The following night at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the sight of a toboggan gave Jones the idea of harnessing the dogs to haul their packs.’
      • ‘Grandmother harnessed the horse to the sleigh and then opened the back door to the barn. We were going for a sleigh ride! Under the stars!’
      • ‘The child is trying to move forward without having harnessed the horse to the cart. The child has been provided with only the cart! What do we teach first?’
      • ‘The priest began the difficult task of harnessing the horse to the front of his heavily laden wagon.’
  • 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’
    • ‘This technology is harnessed to provide heat for buildings of all kinds.’
    • ‘Each electrical appliance harnesses the energy of electrons in some way to create a useful side effect.’
    • ‘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 rapids have since been harnessed to provide the city with hydroelectricity.’
    • ‘In this way, the energy released by the exergonic reaction can be partially harnessed to drive the endergonic one.’
    • ‘But now they're also realizing the power of this gushing water can be harnessed to produce electricity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The center harnesses the nature's energy in a number of ways to save energy costs and the environment.’
    • ‘Today's windmills are entirely computerized, with sensors that allow them to turn into the wind to harness energy as efficiently as possible.’
    • ‘The system would have produced 3.5 megawatts - the five turbines being designed to harness tidal energy and turn it into electricity.’
    • ‘Once in place they will harness the wind's energy and produce enough electricity to power over 500 homes.’
    • ‘Also, they speculated that uranium perhaps could be harnessed to replace coal or oil as a fuel for industrial power plants.’
    • ‘In January Wavegen was awarded a £2.1m grant to develop a new prototype to harness wave energy.’
    • ‘An excellent example of successfully harnessing solar energy was demonstrated to the world at the Sydney Olympic Park last month.’
    • ‘He will have made a machine that can harness the energy of the ocean's tides.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is designed to harness the energy contained in ocean waves to produce electricity.’
    • ‘Wind energy and solar power could be harnessed to heat the dwellings and provide enough energy for daily needs.’
    • ‘‘Ireland should be harnessing its natural resources and should be a net exporter of power rather than an importer,’ he said.’
    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 draft work.

      • ‘But by early June the bulls were back in harness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Horses played a big part in life on the farm, and the family were either riding them or working them in harness every day.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1In the routine of daily work.
        ‘a man who died in harness far beyond the normal age of retirement’
        • ‘Tipp will probably go in as the marginal favourites now that their most prolific scorer Declan Browne is back in harness.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Firstly France, with their star fly-half back in harness, won revenge for their previous defeat, thumping Scotland by a whopping 61-0.’
        • ‘It knocked her out - but she will be back in harness tomorrow at an investiture at Buckingham palace.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        at work, working, employed, in an occupation, in action, active, busy
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      2. 1.2Working closely with someone to achieve something.
        ‘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.’
        • ‘However, spinners Mark Bell and Dan Broadbent got together in harness to share nine victims.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Within a couple of weeks he'd sealed the deal that will put the two world class playmakers in harness, delighting Wanderers' fans.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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’.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘And once again it was Reape who came good, this time bowling in harness with Mark Beckett.’
        • ‘Lehmann and Byas were already in harness when Yorkshire resumed the second day on 144 for three.’
        • ‘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.’


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