Definition: Something that has been despoiled or broken.

 Pronunciation: Ha-row-men-t


The ‘Harrow’ is an agricultural tool – a wooden rake used to drag over and break soil. The word ‘Harrow’ has very old roots in the English language – the word hearwa being the Old English predecessor. There is some speculation that the word may even link to the word harvest. The word Harrowment came into being in the 17th and 18th centuries – taking the idea of something being broken by a harrow and turning it into a noun to describe something or someone that is broken.

Why this word?

There is a desolation buried within the sound of this word that is, well, harrowing. Harrowment allows the speaker to find a word that seems to bring the ideas of the words ‘haunting’ and ‘sorrow’ together into something that actually feels an appropriate expression to describe a scene that causes one’s heart to sink in pity.

How to use the word harrowment in a sentence?

Harrowment is ready to use. If you are a journalist in a warzone, there is no more evocative word to describe the scene. If you are living in a small town and a tragedy befalls a neighbour – that, too, is an aptly harowing scene. This word has real feeling behind it. Use it – and they will understand.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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