harsh

adjective
\ˈhärsh \

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

Banks are set to remain cautious about writing new loans as a harsh spotlight remains on the sector, creating a potential headwind to economic growth. James Glynn, WSJ, "Reserve Bank of Australia Holds Fire on Rates," 2 Oct. 2018 Jeff Fager, is now under a harsh new spotlight as he was also accused of harassment in Farrow’s latest. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Disgraced CBS boss Les Moonves staying on as adviser, network paying millions to #MeToo charities," 10 Sep. 2018 But Jennifer Garner says trying to nurture a relationship in fame’s harsh spotlight can create an almost unimaginable level of stress. Hayley Kaufman, BostonGlobe.com, "Jennifer Garner talks fame, marriage, and the tabloids," 14 July 2018 But even its neighbors were unaware the building housed detained children until the outcry over President Donald Trump's policy put a harsh spotlight on the facilities. Kaila White, azcentral, "'End the secrecy,' says Arizona congressman touring shelter for migrant kids in home district," 6 July 2018 Apple’s order comes as immigration and the country’s treatment of immigrants has come into a harsh spotlight. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple Has Green-Lit Immigration Anthology Series 'Little America'," 20 June 2018 The pre-sentencing report is an investigation into whether a person’s background may warrant a harsher or more lenient sentence, takes 70 to 90 days to prepare, and is a necessary step in the federal system before sentencing. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Michael Flynn is cooperating with Mueller and eager to have case wrap up, court hears," 11 July 2018 The pre-sentencing report is an investigation into whether a person’s background may warrant a harsher or more lenient sentence takes 70 to 90 days to prepare and is a necessary step in the federal system before sentencing. Washington Post, "Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is still cooperating with Mueller and eager to have case wrapped up, court hears," 10 July 2018 President Donald Trump, a harsh and constant critic of immigration, has slashed the refugee cap to 45,000, the lowest level since the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed by Congress. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Some refugees resettling in America find gun violence instead of peace," 27 June 2018

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

16 Nov 2018

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 \
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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Comments on harsh

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noxious or harmful

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