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From the Robert E. Howard Lexicon

"I will harrow Frankistan with steel and flame..."

—Lord of Samarcand

One method employed by science-fiction and fantasy writers and role-playing game masters who wish to impart a sense of the arcane is to take a word that remains in use, such as harrowing, and use the ancient root of the word instead in the narrative.

After reading the etymological notes accompanying the standard definitions, it is obvious why there's an agricultural and ecclesiastical basis for the definition. The term "harrow" came into the old English from the Scandinavian during the time of the Danelaw, when pagan, Viking warlords from Denmark ruled portions of England and raided and extorted English kingdoms.

In this context, Christian peasants farmed under pagan rule, Christian monasteries suffered at their hands, and adjacent Christian kingdoms were forever in danger of losing their sovereignty, the tribute paid by these kingdoms to the Viking lords was known as the Danegold.

DL: Evidently a hopeful name for a baby boy.




(Placename) a borough of NW Greater London; site of an English boys' public school founded in 1571 at Harrow-on-the-Hill, a part of this borough. Pop: 210 700 (2003 est). Area: 51 sq km (20 sq miles)

har·row 1



A farm implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp teeth or upright disks, used to break up and even off plowed ground.

tr.v. har·rowed, har·row·ing, har·rows

1. To break up and level (soil or land) with a harrow.

2. To inflict great distress or torment on.

[Middle English harwe.]

har′row·er n.

har·row 2

tr.v. har·rowed, har·row·ing, har·rows Archaic

To plunder or rob (Hell of redeemed souls). Used of Jesus after the Crucifixion.

[Middle English herwen, variant of harien; see harry.]

harrow 3


(Agriculture) any of various implements used to level the ground, stir the soil, break up clods, destroy weeds, etc, in soil


1. (Agriculture) (tr) to draw a harrow over (land)

2. (Agriculture) (intr) (of soil) to become broken up through harrowing

3. (tr) to distress; vex

[C13: of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish harv, Swedish harf; related to Middle Dutch harke rake]

ˈharrower n

ˈharrowing adj, n

ˈharrowingly adv

harrow 4

vb (tr)

1. to plunder or ravish

2. (Ecclesiastical Terms) (of Christ) to descend into (hell) to rescue righteous souls

[C13: variant of Old English hergian to harry]

ˈharrowment n

har•row 5


1. an agricultural implement with spikelike teeth or upright disks, for leveling and breaking up clods in plowed land.


2. to draw a harrow over (land).

3. to disturb keenly or painfully; distress the mind, feelings, etc., of.


4. to become broken up by harrowing, as soil.

[1250–1300; Middle English harwe; akin to Old Norse herfi harrow, Middle Dutch harke rake]

har′row•er, n.

har•row 6

v.t. Archaic.

to despoil.

[before 1000; Middle English harwen, herwen, Old English hergian to harry]

har′row•ment, n.

harrow 7

harrowing - To harrow is to wound the feelings or cause to suffer—which gives us harrowing.

See also related terms for suffer.

Past participle: harrowed

Gerund: harrowing

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