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Farming Harrow vs. Distressful Harrowing

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Ryan from West Bolton, Vermont, who grew up on a farm, wonders if the noun harrow, meaning a “farm implement used for breaking up dirt” and the adjective harrowing, meaning “extremely painful” are etymologically related. Indeed they are. There’s an unrelated harrowing in English that has to do with “robbing” or “plundering,” but it’s from a different family of words that includes harry as in “to harass.” In addition, an old word meaning “harrow” is herce, also spelled herse, which is the source of the English word rehearse, the idea being to repeatedly “rake over.”

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