har·​row·​ing | \ ˈher-ə-wiŋ How to pronounce harrowing (audio) , ˈha-rə- \

Definition of harrowing

: acutely distressing or painful a harrowing experience Mr. Wu's work in a coal mine was particularly harrowing.— Charles Horner

Other Words from harrowing

harrowingly adverb

Examples of harrowing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For many, the images of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed sitting beside his parents for his first television interviews after 985 days in Russian detention are a heartwarming scene of reunion -- a happy ending to a harrowing ordeal. Byshannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 23 May 2022 In her book, Spears offers a chilling account of the harrowing ordeal and Maddie's unbelievable recovery. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, 5 May 2022 For Megan, the harrowing incident that has left her in this state seemingly came out of nowhere, as the argument leading up to the July 12, 2020 attack was not physical, nor verbally violent before the firearm was introduced to the situation. Essence, 25 Apr. 2022 Witnesses at the scene described the harrowing incident when at least 10 shots were fired, including one that struck a female officer, 40, who was a 24-year veteran of the force. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 18 Apr. 2022 Doctors have struggled to determine the cause of the harrowing incident. Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, 25 Mar. 2022 While these images are confined to the memories of those who experienced them, much of that day was captured thanks to the harrowing work by the brave photojournalists of The Washington Post. Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2022 His harrowing ordeal in the same stately room last week, after the suicide bombing that also killed dozens of Afghans, shattered a White House attempt to spin the withdrawal as a victory. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 31 Aug. 2021 Portman earned her third Oscar nomination for her harrowing work in Pablo Larraín’s film about First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s grief and trauma in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, 9 June 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harrowing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of harrowing

1799, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for harrowing

from present participle of harrow entry 3

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The first known use of harrowing was in 1799

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Harrowing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harrowing. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for harrowing


har·​row·​ing | \ ˈher-ə-wiŋ \

Kids Definition of harrowing

: very distressing or painful a harrowing experience

More from Merriam-Webster on harrowing

Nglish: Translation of harrowing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harrowing for Arabic Speakers


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