E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Harpies (2 syl.).
Vultures with the head and breasts of a woman, very fierce and loathsome, living in an atmosphere of filth and stench, and contaminating everything which they came near. Homer mentions but one harpy. Hesiod gives two, and later writers three. The names indicate that these monsters were personifications of whirlwinds and storms. Their names were Ocypeta (rapid), Celeno (blackness), and Aëllo (storm). (Greek harpuiai, verb harpzo, to seize; Latin harpyia. See Virgil: Æneid, iii. 219, etc.).
He is a regular harpy. One who wants to appropriate everything; one who sponges on another without mercy.
I will . do you any embassage rather than hold three words conference with this harpy.Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing, ii. 1.