Harpies



[hahr-pee] /ˈhɑr pi/

noun, plural Harpies.
1.
Classical Mythology. a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman’s head and a bird’s body.
2.
(lowercase) a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew.
3.
(lowercase) a greedy, predatory person.
/ˈhɑːpɪ/
noun (pl) -pies
1.
a cruel grasping woman
/ˈhɑːpɪ/
noun (pl) -pies
1.
(Greek myth) a ravenous creature with a woman’s head and trunk and a bird’s wings and claws
n.

late 14c., from Old French harpie (14c.), from Greek Harpyia (plural), literally “snatchers,” probably related to harpazein “to snatch” (see rapid). Metaphoric extension to “greedy person” is c.1400.

In Homer they are merely personified storm winds, who were believed to have carried off any person that had suddenly disappeared. In Hesiod they are fair-haired and winged maidens who surpass the winds in swiftness, and are called Aello and Ocypete; but in later writers they are represented as disgusting monsters, with heads like maidens, faces pale with hunger, and claws like those of birds. The harpies ministered to the gods as the executors of vengeance. [“American Cyclopædia,” 1874]

Vicious winged beings in classical mythology, often depicted as birds with women’s faces. In the story of Jason, they steal or spoil an old blind man’s food, leaving a terrible odor behind them.

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