• noun
    (written as harry)
    heroin. An addicts’ term from the 1960s, personifying the drug in the same way as charlie for cocaine.
  • prefix a prefix used in public-school, university and armed-services’ slang, almost always by males, to add jocular familiarity to a standard term. It is often used in conjunction with the -er(s) word ending. The -er(s) form is probably earlier; ‘harry-’ seems to have originated in armed-forces speech pre-World War II.

Origin & History of “harry-”

Etymologically, to harry is to ‘go on a raid as an army does’. The word comes ultimately from prehistoric Germanic *kharjaz, which meant ‘crowd of people’ and also ‘army’ (it also produced English harangue, harbinger, harbour, and harness). From it was formed the verb *kharōjan, which passed into Old English as hergian. this developed into modern English harry, and it also produced the verb harrow ‘rob, plunder’, now obsolete except in the expression harrowing of hell (which denotes the rescuing by Christ, after his crucifixion, of the souls of the righteous held in captivity in hell).