- a musical instrument consisting of a triangular frame formed by a soundbox, a pillar, and a curved neck, and having strings stretched between the soundbox and the neck that are plucked with the fingers.
- anything that resembles this instrument, especially in having a row of parallel strings or wires, as various mechanical devices or kitchen implements for slicing cheese.
- a vertical metal frame shaped to bend around the bulb in a standing lamp and used to support a lamp shade.
- Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a person of Irish birth or descent.
- Also called harper. any of several English coins issued for use in Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries, bearing the figure of a harp on the reverse.
- South Midland and Southern U.S. a mouth harp; harmonica.
verb (used without object)
- to play on a harp.
- harp on/upon, to dwell on persistently or tediously in speaking or writing: He was always harping on the importance of taking vitamin supplements.
- a large triangular plucked stringed instrument consisting of a soundboard connected to an upright pillar by means of a curved crossbar from which the strings extend downwards. The strings are tuned diatonically and may be raised in pitch either one or two semitones by the use of pedals (double-action harp). Basic key: B major; range: nearly seven octaves
- something resembling this, esp in shape
- an informal name (esp in pop music) for harmonica
- (intr) to play the harp
- (tr) archaic to speak; utter; express
- (intr; foll by on or upon) to speak or write in a persistent and tedious manner
Old English hearpe, from Proto-Germanic *kharpon- (cf. Old Saxon harpa “instrument of torture;” Old Norse harpa, Dutch harp, Old High German harpfa, German Harfe “harp”). Late Latin harpa, source of words in some Romanic languages, is a borrowing from Germanic. Meaning “harmonica” is from 1887, short for mouth-harp. The harp seal (1784) is so called for the harp-shaped markings on its back.
Old English hearpian; see harp (n.). Cognate with Middle Dutch, Dutch harpen, Middle High German harpfen, German harfen. Figurative sense of “talk overmuch” (about something) first recorded mid-15c., originally to harp upon one string. Related: Harped; harping.