from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A dry dusty wind that blows along the northwest coast of Africa.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An intensely dry land-wind felt on the coast of Africa between Cape Verd and Cape Lopez.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A dry, hot wind, prevailing on the Atlantic coast of Africa, in December, January, and February, blowing from the interior or Sahara. It is usually accompanied by a haze which obscures the sun.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Parching dust-bearing land-wind on coast of Upper Guinea in December, January & February.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a dusty wind from the Sahara that blows toward the western coast of Africa during the winter


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Akan (Twi) haramata, possibly from Arabic ḥarām, evil thing, from ḥarama, to prohibit; see ḥrm in Semitic roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.


  • "The harmattan, which is caused by shifting weather patterns, derives its name from the word for 'tears your breath apart' in the West African language Twi..."

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • As if to presage that there is a new dawn in the world, with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the strong winds coming from the Sub-Sahara have manifested themselves in the form of what Ghana typically knows as the harmattan season.

    Accra by Day & Night

  • During the dry season, a strong wind called the harmattan blows from the Sahara across West Africa.

    Signs of the Times

  • After leaving the city and its suburbs and crossing the point of the cape to Simon Town, where is located the naval station and a more secure anchorage, one passes over deserts of sand over which a wind called the "harmattan" blows with great force and fury, obliging one to veil the face to protect the eyes from the refraction of the sun's rays as well as the sand.

    Recollections of a naval life : including the cruises of the Confederate States steamers, "Sumter" and "Alabama",

  • Am I the only one that had to look up the definition of “harmattan”?

    Seasons and Chickens « Cameroon

  • But now the thunderstorm scrubs the air clear of any lingering harmattan grime leaving a sparkling blue sky with white puffy clouds and an astonishingly green and vibrant landscape whose existence I had almost forgotten about under the dust.

    Seasons and Chickens « Cameroon

  • The downpour wipes away the layer of dust plastered on everything by the dry harmattan winds that blown down from the parched Sahel during the peak of the dry season.

    Seasons and Chickens « Cameroon

  • The south end of the range experiences the southwesterly monsoon from the ocean and the north end dry northeasterly harmattan winds from the desert.

    Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire

  • It was a very African lesson for The Visitor to learn that winter, as the arid harmattan winds blowing south from the Sahara pushed the wet monsoon out into the sea.


  • Natural Hazards: dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms

    Sierra Leone


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  • "The noonday sun could send temperatures soaring to a hundred and fifteen degrees and a hot harmattan wind blew down from the desert."

    - "The Great Oasis" by Burkhard Bilger, p 116 of the December 19 & 26, 2011 issue of the New Yorker

    January 1, 2012

  • "'...they tell me that the dry season is at hand, when the air, though hotter by far on occasion, is perfectly dry... Dry, and sometimes accompanied by an interesting wind, the harmattan; though that may also be the name of the season itself...'"

    --P. O'Brian, The Commodore, 207

    March 18, 2008