harsh

adjective
\ ˈhärsh How to pronounce harsh (audio) \

Definition of harsh

1 : having a coarse uneven surface that is rough or unpleasant to the touch granite stones harsh with lichen— Nancy Hale
2a : causing a disagreeable or painful sensory reaction : irritating harsh colors harsh lighting her harsh high-pitched voice The horseradish was too harsh for the children. : overly intense or powerful harsh chemicals
b : physically discomforting The climate there is very harsh. a harsh winter : unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience the harsh realities of poverty a harsh reminder of the importance of wearing a seat belt
3 : excessively critical or negative had some harsh words for her opponent a harsh critic : unduly severe in making demands harsh discipline
4 : lacking in aesthetic appeal or refinement : crude a harsh and sometimes unpleasant book, barren of pretty touches— Brendan Gill

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Other Words from harsh

harshly adverb
harshness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for harsh

rough, harsh, uneven, rugged, scabrous mean not smooth or even. rough implies points, bristles, ridges, or projections on the surface. a rough wooden board harsh implies a surface or texture distinctly unpleasant to the touch. a harsh fabric that chafes the skin uneven implies a lack of uniformity in height, breadth, or quality. an old house with uneven floors rugged implies irregularity or roughness of land surface and connotes difficulty of travel. a rugged landscape scabrous implies scaliness or prickliness of surface. a scabrous leaf

Examples of harsh in a Sentence

The climate there is very harsh. We've had an extremely harsh winter. It's time for her to face the harsh realities of this situation. The accident serves as a harsh reminder of the importance of wearing a seat belt. The lighting in the room was very harsh. The state has established harsh penalties for drug dealers. She has been criticized for her harsh treatment of her students. He was sentenced to a harsh prison term. He had harsh words for his opponent. She has faced some extremely harsh criticism.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Looks like Judge Trudy isn't going to be handing out a harsh and bizarre sentence to you anytime soon. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "The Ultimate Nickelodeon Trivia Quiz," 4 Dec. 2018 February is anticipated to be both the coldest and harshest of the winter months. Cierra Williams, Country Living, "The Weather Channel Predicts a Brutal Winter for Most of the Country," 16 Nov. 2018 Unlike other skin-care lines, some of which have several different collections for different complexion needs, Fourth Ray developed its products to cater to every skin type, so there are no harsh or overly drying ingredients to be found. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Introducing Fourth Ray Beauty, the New Skin-Care Brand From ColourPop's Parent Company," 20 Aug. 2018 Wearing goggles while swimming is important to protect our eyes from harsh chemicals like chlorine, and kids love to look around underwater. Shanon Maglente, Good Housekeeping, "These Goggles Won't Pull Your Hair — and They are Selling Out FAST," 20 Mar. 2019 The company’s position as a technology platform for sourcing and managing family care came under an especially harsh light this week. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Fixing Care.com Will Cost More Than Babysitting Money," 15 Mar. 2019 In addition to being unnecessary, residue from harsh cleaners like bleach might irritate your skin. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What the Hell Is a Sitz Bath? (And Why Would You Take One?)," 14 Mar. 2019 The custom rugs, especially, with motifs that range from plus signs to sisal diamonds, convey structure without reading too harsh. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "This Brian J. McCarthy-Designed Hamptons Home is Filled with the Unexpected," 13 Mar. 2019 When parents of marginalized, poor students try to navigate around the harsh rules and requirements, they are often investigated, tried, and punished with strict prejudice. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Access to Education for Black Children Proves Difficult for Their Parents, Creating a Disadvantage," 13 Mar. 2019

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

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First Known Use of harsh

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for harsh

Middle English harsk, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian harsk harsh

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Learn More about harsh

Dictionary Entries near harsh

harrumph

harry

Harsanyi

harsh

harshen

harsh-furred hare

harslet

Statistics for harsh

Last Updated

6 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harsh

The first known use of harsh was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for harsh

harsh

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of harsh

: unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience
: having an unpleasant or harmful effect because of great strength or force : too intense or powerful
: severe or cruel : not kind

harsh

adjective
\ ˈhärsh How to pronounce harsh (audio) \
harsher; harshest

Kids Definition of harsh

1 : causing physical discomfort a harsh climate
2 : having an unpleasant or harmful effect often because of great force or intensity a harsh sound a harsh soap
3 : severe or cruel : not kind or lenient harsh punishment

Other Words from harsh

harshly adverb
harshness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on harsh

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with harsh

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harsh

Spanish Central: Translation of harsh

Nglish: Translation of harsh for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harsh for Arabic Speakers

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