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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from harrowing

harrowingly adverb

Examples of harrowing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

It's been both a harrowing and empowering time to be a woman, especially a woman in a Hollywood that's been run by men like Harvey Weinstein for decades. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "It's a Parade of Pink on the Oscars Red Carpet," 25 Feb. 2019 This swerving tone—from blithe to pitiable, humorous to harrowing—works well in the books, when we are glued to Patrick’s side and treated to his acid tongue and exquisite descriptions. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "Is Patrick Melrose Too Glamorous?," 17 May 2018 Both sides relive the harrowing day through agonizing testimony from survivors and families. Faith Karimi, CNN, "Why Nikolas Cruz's death penalty trial would be complicated," 26 Apr. 2018 The feat is even more impressive considering his harrowing Memorial Day. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar season preview: Penske, Ganassi look to close out decade of dominance," 5 Mar. 2018 The feat is even more impressive considering his harrowing Memorial Day. Jim Ayello, USA TODAY Sports, "IndyCar team previews: Penske, Ganassi look to close out decade of dominance," 5 Mar. 2018 This video certainly makes Osprey refueling look like a harrowing experience, yet this is a job the aircraft carry successfully out around the world every day. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch The Harrowing Way A Osprey Refuels in Midair," 13 Mar. 2019 His crew’s circumstances have improved, but a barrage of wonky patches continue to make Atlas a far more harrowing experience than the developers (hopefully) intend. Adam Patrick Murray, PCWorld, "PCWorld is streaming Atlas on Twitch and YouTube!," 18 Jan. 2019 Yet there were repeated setbacks along the way, including a harrowing series of health problems that led to psychotic episodes and left him in a coma for two months in 2008. Matt Schudel, chicagotribune.com, "This great jazz pianist fell into a coma for months. He came back better than ever.," 20 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of harrowing

1799, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about harrowing

Dictionary Entries near harrowing








Statistics for harrowing

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harrowing

The first known use of harrowing was in 1799

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for harrowing


har·​row·​ing | \ ˈher-ə-wiŋ\

Kids Definition of harrowing

: very distressing or painful a harrowing experience

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on harrowing

What made you want to look up harrowing? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!