har·​row·​ing ˈher-ə-wiŋ How to pronounce harrowing (audio)
: acutely distressing or painful
a harrowing experience
Mr. Wu's work in a coal mine was particularly harrowing.Charles Horner
harrowingly adverb

Examples of harrowing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This is happening in the middle of an unprecedented demographic shift, just several years out from the first time in human history in which people 65 and older outnumber people 18 and under, with many millions of people suffering the harrowing experience of memory loss. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2024 There was a conversation with Jewish hostages on their harrowing experiences and a public protest against the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. Sam Gill, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Feb. 2024 Hind’s cousin, 15-year-old Layan Hamadeh, made a harrowing call for help to emergency services that was recorded by the PRCS and shared on social media. Helen Regan, CNN, 6 Feb. 2024 Miraculously, the dog survived the harrowing ordeal, but not before the Leach’s tracked the lion through knee-deep snow and fired multiple warning shots at the large predator. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 1 Feb. 2024 This harrowing experience, which resulted in a cracked skull and changed facial structure, could have been a setback. Isabela Raygoza, Billboard, 30 Jan. 2024 This chaos followed the film through to its release, as Lillian Ross reported, in The New Yorker, in a harrowing account of Coppola’s battle to get it into theatres. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 18 Jan. 2024 Greenlaw then took that ball on a harrowing victory lap, of sorts, before getting tackled. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, 27 Jan. 2024 Later at the party, when Carlos regales attendees with a harrowing story of near death and a car bomb, the audience has been primed to react the same way. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harrowing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from present participle of harrow entry 3

First Known Use

1799, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of harrowing was in 1799

Dictionary Entries Near harrowing

Cite this Entry

“Harrowing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harrowing. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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