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

But harsh radiation—which exists at Europa’s surface in abundance—just might add a dash of color. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Water on Europa—with a Pinch of Salt," 12 June 2019 Stone had an especially harsh assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, "Roger Stone asserts innocence as he raises cash for living expenses and legal fees. Mum on Robert Mueller.," 11 June 2019 Karnad was a harsh critic of religious fundamentalism and Hindu nationalism. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Girish Karnad, one of India’s most respected actor-directors, has passed away," 10 June 2019 While prosecutors around the country are making daily decisions affecting people's liberty, few are compiling data that would show how criminal cases are resolved and whether those outcomes are harsher for minorities. CBS News, "Connecticut officials say state to become first to collect prosecutor data," 6 June 2019 Encountering somebody with a harsh word for Elton John or Bruce Springsteen is rare enough to be surprising; the same was true before their deaths of David Bowie and Prince. D.b., The Economist, "With “My Songs” Sting underlines the lasting quality of his music," 4 June 2019 The weather was too harsh to fly helicopters into the mountains and lasted until Saturday. Colleen Shalby, latimes.com, "Five bodies spotted in search for missing climbers in Himalayas," 3 June 2019 Also worth putting on hold temporarily: anti-aging creams with retinol or alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids that may be too harsh on sensitive, raw skin. Kari Molvar, Vogue, "The Best Sunburn Remedies, From Soothing Balms to LED Treatments," 23 May 2019 Stay away from fluorescent lighting, which is too harsh for most spaces and can lead to headaches or blurred vision. Kelly Dawson, House Beautiful, "How to Design a Bachelor Pad That Isn’t a Total Cliché," 15 May 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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Dictionary Entries near harsh

harrumph

harry

Harsanyi

harsh

harshen

harsh-furred hare

harslet

Statistics for harsh

Last Updated

15 Jun 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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