Etymology
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abet (v.)
late 14c., "urge on, incite" (implied in abetting), from Old French abeter "to bait, to harass with dogs," literally "to cause to bite," from a- "to" (see ad-) + beter "to bait." This verb is probably from Frankish or some other Germanic source (perhaps Low Franconian betan "incite," or Old Norse beita "cause to bite"); ultimately from Proto-Germanic *baitjan, from PIE root *bheid- "to split," with derivatives in Germanic referring to biting. Sense of "encourage by aid or approval" is from 1779. Related: Abetted; abetting.
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solicit (v.)

early 15c., soliciten, "to disturb, trouble," from Old French soliciter, solliciter (14c.), from Latin sollicitare "to disturb, rouse, trouble, harass; stimulate, provoke," from sollicitus "agitated," from sollus "whole, entire" (from PIE root *sol- "whole, well-kept") + citus "aroused," past participle of ciere "shake, excite, set in motion" (from PIE root *keie- "to set in motion"). Related: Solicited; soliciting.

The meaning "entreat, petition" is from 1520s. Meaning "to further (business affairs)" evolved mid-15c. from a French sense of "manage affairs." The sexual sense (often in reference to prostitutes) is attested from 1710, probably from a merger of the business sense and an earlier sense of "to court or beg the favor of" (a woman), attested from 1590s.

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chivvy (v.)

"harass," 1918, from alternative form of chevy (1830) "to chase," from a noun chevy (1824, also used as a hunting cry, c. 1785), from chevy chase "a running pursuit," probably from the "Ballad of Chevy Chase," a popular song from 15c. describing a hunting party on the borderland that turned into a battle between the English and the Scots (the incident probably dates from late 14c.). The place is probably originally Cheviot Chase (see chase (n.1)).

The old song of Chevy-Chase is the favourite ballad of the common people of England, and Ben Jonson used to say, he had rather have been the author of it than of all his works. [Addison, "Spectator" No. 70, May 21, 1711]
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stalk (v.1)

"pursue stealthily," Old English -stealcian, as in bestealcian "to steal along, walk warily," from Proto-Germanic *stalkon, frequentative of PIE *stel-, possibly a variant of *ster- (3) "to rob, steal" (see steal (v.)). Compare hark/hear, talk/tell). In another view the Old English word might be by influenced of stalk (n.). Meaning "harass obsessively" first recorded 1991. Related: Stalked; stalking.

A stalking-horse in literal use was a horse draped in trappings and trained to allow a fowler to conceal himself behind it to get within range of the game; figurative sense of "person who participates in a proceeding to disguise its real purpose" is recorded from 1610s.

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haze (v.)

"subject (someone) to cruel horseplay," 1850, American English student slang, from earlier nautical sense of "harass with work, punish by keeping at unpleasant and unnecessary hard labor" (1840), perhaps from hawze "terrify, frighten, confound" (1670s), from French haser "irritate, annoy" (mid-15c.), which is of unknown origin. Related: Hazed; hazing.

All hands were called to "come up and see it rain," and kept on deck hour after hour in a drenching rain, standing round the deck so far apart as to prevent our talking with one another, with our tarpaulins and oil-cloth jackets on, picking old rope to pieces or laying up gaskets and robands. This was often done, too, when we were lying in port with two anchors down, and no necessity for more than one man on deck as a look-out. This is what is called "hazing" a crew, and "working their old iron up." [Richard H. Dana, "Two Years before the Mast," 1840]
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jayhawker (n.)

"freebooter, guerrilla," American English, 1858, originally "irregular or marauder during the 'Bleeding Kansas' troubles" (especially one who came from the North). It seems to have come into widespread use only during the Civil War. There was said to have been a bird of this name, but evidence for it is wanting. Perhaps a disparaging use from jay (n.). Hence back-formed verb jayhawk "harass" (1866).

Bushwhackers are men, united together, but not soldiers, who live in the bush; and whose avowed object is to kill every Union soldier they can, and cripple, so far as they can, the resources of the Federal military power. The jayhawkers are thieves. They plunder indiscriminately from all parties. In the same band are both rebel and Union men. ... Guerilla bands are companies enlisted and sworn into the rebel service; but not belonging to the armies. [Henry M. Painter, "Brief Narrative of Incidents in the War in Missouri," Boston, 1863.]
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harry (v.)

Old English hergian "make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder," the word used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for what the Vikings did to England, from Proto-Germanic *harjon (source also of Old Frisian urheria "lay waste, ravage, plunder," Old Norse herja "to make a raid, to plunder," Old Saxon and Old High German herion, German verheeren "to destroy, lay waste, devastate"). This is literally "to overrun with an army," from Proto-Germanic *harjan "an armed force" (source also of Old English here, Old Norse herr "crowd, great number; army, troop," Old Saxon and Old Frisian heri, Dutch heir, Old High German har, German Heer, Gothic harjis "a host, army").

The Germanic words come from PIE root *korio- "war" also "war-band, host, army" (source also of Lithuanian karas "war, quarrel," karias "host, army;" Old Church Slavonic kara "strife;" Middle Irish cuire "troop;" Old Persian kara "host, people, army;" Greek koiranos "ruler, leader, commander"). Weakened sense of "worry, goad, harass" is from c. 1400. Related: Harried; harrying.

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distress (v.)

late 14c., distressen, "constrain or compel by pain, suffering, or other circumstances; harass," from Old French destresser "restrain, constrain; afflict, distress," from Vulgar Latin *districtiare "restraint, affliction, narrowness, distress," from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere "draw apart, hinder," also, in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)).

From c. 1400 as "afflict with mental or physical pain, make miserable." From early 15c. as "to damage;" specifically "damage a piece of furniture to make it appear older (and thus more valuable)" by 1926.

My particular job is "distressing" new furniture—banging, hammering and knocking it to give it the wear of time. This is not so easy a task as it seems. The smallest mistake may make all your work useless. In high-class "antiques" such as we carry, you have to satisfy not only the average person but people who go in for furniture as a hobby. ["It's a Wise Man Who Knows a Real Antique," Popular Science Monthly, June 1926]
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ride (v.)

Middle English riden, from Old English ridan "sit or be carried on" (as on horseback), "move forward; rock; float, sail" (class I strong verb; past tense rad, past participle riden), from Proto-Germanic *ridan (source also of Old Norse riða, Old Saxon ridan, Old Frisian rida "to ride," Middle Dutch riden, Dutch rijden, Old High German ritan, German reiten), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (source also of Old Irish riadaim "I travel," Old Gaulish reda "chariot"). Common to Celtic and Germanic, perhaps a loan word from one to the other.

Of a ship, "to sail, float, rock," c. 1300. The meaning "heckle" is by 1912 from earlier sense of "dominate cruelly, have the mastery of, harass at will" (1580s) on the notion of "control and manage," as a rider does a horse, especially harshly or arrogantly. The verb in venery is from mid-13c.

To ride out "endure (a storm, etc.) without great damage" is from 1520s, literal and figurative. To let (something) ride "allow to pass without comment or intervention" is by 1921. To ride herd on "guard and control" is by 1897, from cattle-driving. To ride shotgun "ride in the passenger seat of an automobile" is by 1919, from the custom of having an armed man up beside the driver of a stagecoach to ward off trouble. To ride shank's mare "walk" is from 1846 (see shank (n.)). The ____ rides again cliche is from Hollywood movie titles ("Destry Rides Again," 1939).

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rank (adj.)

Old English ranc "proud, overbearing, haughty, showy," senses now obsolete, from Proto-Germanic *rankaz (source also of Danish rank "right, upright," German rank "slender," Old Norse rakkr "straight, erect"), which is of uncertain origin, possibly related to Old Norse and Old English rinc "man, warrior." Related: Rankly; rankness.

In reference to plant growth, "vigorous, luxuriant, abundant, copious" (also figurative) it is recorded from c. 1300. The sense also evolved in Middle English to "large and coarse" (c. 1300), then to "corrupt, loathsome, foul" (mid-14c.), perhaps via the notion of "excessive and unpleasant," perhaps also influenced in this by French rance "rancid." Specifically as "having an offensive, strong smell" by 1520s. In Middle English also "brave, stout-hearted; splendid, admirable." In 17c. it also could mean "lewd, lustful."

The development of the word in Eng. is, however, far from clear, as the OE. uses are not quite the primitive ones. In ME. also it chiefly occurs in alliterative verse, app. more for convenience than to express definite meanings. In the later language the chief difficulty is to decide which of the more original senses are represented in the transferred uses. [OED]

Much used 16c. as a pejorative intensive (as in rank folly). This is possibly the source of the verb meanings "to reveal another's guilt" (1929, underworld slang) and that of "to harass, insult, abuse," 1934, African-American vernacular, though this also may be so called from the role of the activity in establishing social hierarchy (and thus from rank (n.)).

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