Definitions

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

  • n. One that harries.
  • n. Any of various slender, narrow-winged hawks of the genus Circus, such as the marsh hawk, that prey on small animals.
  • n. Any of a breed of small hounds originally used in hunting hares and rabbits.
  • n. A cross-country runner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That which harries.
  • n. Any of several birds of prey in the genus Circus of the subfamily Circinae which fly low over meadows and marshes and hunt small mammals or birds.
  • n. A runner, specifically, a cross country runner.
  • n. A kind of dog used to hunt hares; a harehound.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a small breed of hounds, used for hunting hares.
  • n. One who harries.
  • n. One of several species of hawks or buzzards of the genus Circus which fly low and harry small animals or birds, -- as the European marsh harrier (Circus æruginosus), and the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small kind of hound employed in hunting the hare.
  • n. One who harries. See harry, v.
  • n. A bird of prey of the family Falconidæ, subfamily Circinœ, and genus Circus.

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

  • n. a hound that resembles a foxhound but is smaller; used to hunt rabbits
  • n. hawks that hunt over meadows and marshes and prey on small terrestrial animals
  • n. a persistent attacker

Etymologies

Sense 2, alteration (influenced by harry) of obsolete harrower, from harrow2.
Middle English hairer, eirer, possibly alteration (influenced by hair, hare, hare) of Old French errier, wanderer, from errer, to wander; see err.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
harry +‎ -er (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The harrier is a jump jet, meaning it can hover, stop in mid-air, and even spin 360 degrees.

    Latest Headlines - ABC 7 News

  • In the five years since we came here, I have recorded eight species of raptor flying over the garden, including hobby, peregrine, merlin, osprey and marsh harrier.

    Birdwatch: Kestrel

  • Is it too much to hope that soon we may even see pallid harrier nesting here in Britain?

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • Here in Somerset we regularly see marsh harriers, and during the winter the occasional hen harrier drops in too.

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • Our third breeding harrier, Montagu's, is found mainly in eastern England.

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • But the fourth British species, the pallid harrier, is so rare that only a score or so have ever turned up here, wanderers from their breeding grounds on the remote Russian steppes.

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • Yet during my lifetime the pallid harrier has gone from being one of our rarest birds to a reasonably regular visitor, extending its breeding range westwards to Germany and Scandinavia.

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • So as they searched for animal tracks and waded up to their ankles in thick, black goo, I scanned the wide horizon for signs of the harrier.

    Birdwatch: Pallid harrier

  • Female marsh harrier flying over a coastal reedbed.

    Country Diary: Waltham Brooks

  • It's a "cream crown" – a young or female marsh harrier with splashes of creamy white on its head and throat.

    Country Diary: Waltham Brooks

Comments

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  • Har, har.

    November 28, 2008

  • Well, the BIRDS may not be loons....

    November 26, 2008

  • possibly related to the bog-dwelling cooter muffaloon.

    November 26, 2008

  • See also hash house harriers.

    November 26, 2008

  • Also the name of a famous V/STOL fighter jet.

    November 26, 2008

  • Its Slovene cousin is called the pepelasti lunj, which translates as "ash harrier" (because of its gray color, presumably) but Wikipedia tells me the proper English term is hen harrier or northern harrier (Circus cyaneus).

    November 26, 2008

  • Interesting. In the United States, this bird is a harrier.

    November 26, 2008

  • These birds are not loons, although that is what they are called in several Slavic languages: Slovene lunj, Russian лунь.

    November 26, 2008