Definition of harrow in US English:



  • An implement consisting of a heavy frame set with teeth or tines which is dragged over plowed land to break up clods, remove weeds, and cover seed.

    • ‘They should also be equipped with press wheels to produce good seed-to-soil contact and a harrow to scatter residue and help cover seed.’
    • ‘For this task, the farmer hitched the horse to a harrow which was dragged along the ground to break up the clods.’
    • ‘The adequate preparation is often achieved by ripping the land when the soil has good moisture, followed by chisel ploughing and the use of a fine harrow for fine seed preparation.’
    • ‘The most common tools used by farmers were metal tipped ploughs for turning over the soil and harrows to cover up the soil when seeds had been planted.’
    • ‘German farmers used spike-tooth harrows extensively to control weeds in small grains fields before the coming of herbicides.’


[with object]
  • 1Draw a harrow over (land).

    • ‘Wheat fields are harrowed before the crop emerges to get the first flush of weeds.’
    • ‘The nearby dairy farmer plowed and harrowed the garden, and we planted cover crops of annual ryegrass and winter rye.’
    • ‘The field is harrowed to kill the weeds which have already sprouted, then the corn will emerge soon afterwards.’
    • ‘The new site will not be ready for about two weeks after they move off, and whilst it will be ploughed and harrowed it will still need cultivating.’
    • ‘The soil is ploughed and harrowed smooth whilst waiting for the suitable time to transplant young shoots of rice that have been pre-planted in small, separate paddies.’
  • 2Cause distress to.

    ‘Todd could take it, whereas I'm harrowed by it’
    • ‘I read many accounts as harrowing as what you see in this movie, and we felt a great responsibility to them.’
    • ‘As harrowing as these scenes may be, they fail to excite the same level of discomfort as the taciturn Brady who glares blankly into the audience.’
    • ‘The film shows the harrowing reality behind the newspaper hysteria over ‘bogus’ refugees.’
    • ‘The reports he made from the prison visits are harrowing.’
    • ‘Before yesterday's hearing began he told families some of the evidence would be particularly harrowing.’
    • ‘Because of the flawed layout and the speed of the dual carriageway traffic, driving along this stretch of road can be harrowing.’
    • ‘It was harrowing to watch, and must have been truly terrible to witness.’
    • ‘Well I suppose at once extremely harrowing to give the evidence but in many ways extremely cathartic to do so.’
    • ‘The film is a harrowing tale about a woman who wakes up to find her husband dead.’
    • ‘I saw where the atomic bomb exploded: it's harrowing, imagining what people went through.’
    • ‘Judging by excerpts already published, the last couple of years have been even more harrowing for the player than most of us suspected.’
    • ‘The scenes in the US last week were deeply harrowing and distressing.’
    • ‘I mostly watched it through my fingers, as it's one of the most harrowing films I've ever seen.’
    • ‘As harrowing as this discovery was, Byrne took some comfort in it since it offered an explanation for Alice's mental problems.’
    • ‘For these men to even admit they have been hit by their wives is harrowing, never mind having to seek help from the police or a woman solicitor.’
    • ‘He says visiting some malls and big shopping plazas on weekends can be harrowing.’
    • ‘He sits in on interviews which can last up to seven hours and can be harrowing if the refugees have had traumatic experiences.’
    • ‘Eerie and harrowing, the film seethes with barely suppressed ferocity.’
    • ‘The jury had heard harrowing and distressing evidence about the shooting.’
    • ‘Breaking with them - even when that means walking away from violence - can be harrowing.’
    distress, trouble, afflict, grieve, torment, torture, crucify, rack, sear, pain, wound, mortify, cause agony to, cause suffering to
    distressing, traumatic, upsetting, heartbreaking, heart-rending, shocking, disturbing, painful, affecting, haunting, appalling, tragic, horrifying
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old Norse herfi; obscurely related to Dutch hark ‘rake’.