Definitions

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

  • noun An instrument having an upright triangular frame consisting of a pillar, a curved neck, and a hollow back containing the sounding board, with usually 46 or 47 strings of graded lengths that are played by plucking with the fingers.
  • noun Any of various ancient and modern instruments of similar or U-shaped design.
  • noun Informal A harmonica.
  • noun Something, such as a pair of vertical supports for a lampshade, that resembles a harp.
  • intransitive verb To play a harp.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play on the harp; play as on a harp.
  • To speak often of something, especially so often as to be tiresome or vexing; speak with reiteration; especially, to speak or write with monotonous repetition: usually with on or upon.
  • To give forth as a harp gives forth sound; give expression to, or utter.
  • To produce some specified effect upon by playing on the harp.
  • To sift or separate by means of a harp or screen: as, to harp grain; to harp sand. See harp, n., 4 and 5.
  • noun A musical instrument with strings which are played by being plucked with the fingers.
  • noun [capitalized] A constellation, otherwise called Lyra or the Lyre.
  • noun Same as harper, 2.
  • noun An oblong implement, consisting of a frame filled up with parallel wires resembling the strings of a harp, used as a screen; a grain-sieve.
  • noun A sparred shovel for filling coal.
  • noun In a seutching-machine, a grating through which the refuse falls as the revolving beater drives the fibers forward.
  • noun A figure, likened to a harp or saddle, on the back of the adult harp-seal.
  • noun Hence The harp-seal, or harper.

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

  • transitive verb To play on, as a harp; to play (a tune) on the harp; to develop or give expression to by skill and art; to sound forth as from a harp; to hit upon.
  • intransitive verb To play on the harp.
  • intransitive verb To dwell on or recur to a subject tediously or monotonously in speaking or in writing; to refer to something repeatedly or continually; -- usually with on or upon.
  • intransitive verb [Colloq.] to dwell upon one subject with disagreeable or wearisome persistence.
  • noun A musical instrument consisting of a triangular frame furnished with strings and sometimes with pedals, held upright, and played with the fingers.
  • noun (Astron.) A constellation; Lyra, or the Lyre.
  • noun Scot. A grain sieve.
  • noun See under Æolian.
  • noun (Zoöl.) an arctic seal (Phoca Grœnlandica). The adult males have a light-colored body, with a harp-shaped mark of black on each side, and the face and throat black. Called also saddler, and saddleback. The immature ones are called bluesides; their fur is white, and they are killed and skinned to harvest the fur.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a beautiful marine gastropod shell of the genus Harpa, of several species, found in tropical seas. See Harpa.

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

  • noun A musical instrument consisting of an upright frame strung with strings that are stroked or plucked with the fingers.
  • noun colloquial A harmonica.
  • verb To repeatedly mention a subject.
  • verb transitive To play on (a harp or similar instrument).
  • verb transitive To play (a tune) on the harp.
  • verb transitive To develop or give expression to by skill and art; to sound forth as from a harp; to hit upon.

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

  • noun a chordophone that has a triangular frame consisting of a sounding board and a pillar and a curved neck; the strings stretched between the neck and the soundbox are plucked with the fingers
  • verb come back to
  • noun a pair of curved vertical supports for a lampshade
  • verb play the harp
  • noun a small rectangular free-reed instrument having a row of free reeds set back in air holes and played by blowing into the desired hole

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old English hearpe and from Old French harpe, of Germanic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English hearpe, from Proto-Germanic *harpōn. Cognate with Dutch harp, German Harfe, Swedish harpa.

Examples

  • So, perhaps a harp is the best instrument for a bone musician.

    May 1st, 2007

  • Do you have any idea how complicated the harp is to play?

    Harp Cover Songs » E-Mail

  • Do you have any idea how complicated the harp is to play?

    Harp Cover Songs

  • The harp is like the unicorn of musical instruments.

    Boing Boing

  • I think the harp is totally awesome, and Harpo was my favorite Marx brother by far, and Christmas is about the only time of year I'll let my guard down to admit any of this in public, and by the way shut up.

    Boing Boing

  • The harp is a lovely instrument to look at as well as to listen to.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • The harp is a lovely instrument to look at as well as to listen to.

    The Entrace to Snow White's house

  • I like your choice of picture .... though uncomfortable, a "living harp" is always a beautiful picture.

    View from the Northern Border

  • Long-time harper Cheryl and the back part of her O'Loughlin harp:

    February 2005

  • Long-time harper Cheryl and the back part of her O'Loughlin harp:

    Holy cow!

Comments

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  • "When Orpheus descended to the underworld to seek his wife, Eurydice, his lyre-playing was so moving that the Fates permitted him to bring her back to life. As a result, the image of Orpheus holding a lyre signified immortality in early Orphic rites. The first Christians adapted this image by replacing Orpheus with Christ. This is why angels play the harp."

    —Glenn Kurtz, Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music (New York: Vintage Books, 2007), 108

    November 3, 2008

  • Oh credulous bear! Jesus played the harp because he was Irish. (See my forthcoming debunking of the Da Vinci code, tentatively entitled "The Blarney Codex". Liam Neeson is already salivating to get the film rights)

    November 3, 2008

  • How about that. The things you learn on Wordie....

    November 3, 2008

  • Oh harp, harp, harp!

    November 3, 2008

  • Have you ever noticed how incredibly loud a concert harp is? People think of it as this sweet, angelic instrument, but just one of them can pluck away and be heard over 90+ other instruments in a symphony orchestra, including the brass. Impressive.

    Another time (when it's not so late in the night), I'll share the story of the harp "format" wars that went on in Paris in the early 20th century. Exactly like HD-DVD/blu-ray.

    November 3, 2008

  • Yes Frindley, I'm always surprised to hear the harps plinking away in the midst of the full orchestra. I also love watching them tilt back in readiness for their part - like infantry fixing bayonets.

    November 4, 2008

  • A girl I once knew plays the harp, and is even building her own. I watched her perform so many times over 3 years that a harp would seem loud to me even if it were barely audible.

    November 4, 2008

  • Frindley, when are we gonna get that story?

    March 13, 2009

  • H - Ar - P (hydrogen, argon, phosphorus).

    February 2, 2013