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

The biggest trees, standing tall through storms and harsh winters, may look invincible. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Sturdy as they are, giant trees are particularly susceptible to these three killers," 4 Sep. 2019 Although perpetrators of school attacks in China often receive severe punishments, including the death penalty, the harsh consequences have done little to deter attackers. Amy Qin, BostonGlobe.com, "Attack at school in China leaves at least 8 children dead," 3 Sep. 2019 Things may have been different if not for Kevin Friend's harsh decision in stoppage time to deny Lansbury's goal. SI.com, "Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Jordan Ayew Hits Winner," 31 Aug. 2019 Because of the harsh climate and nearly year-round ice cover at the wreck sites, divers only have a window of opportunity of a few weeks each year to study the ships. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "Divers Get an Eerie First Look Inside the Arctic Shipwreck of the HMS Terror," 30 Aug. 2019 Hydrangeas grow best in light to open shade, a spot with morning sun, but protected from afternoon heat and harsh sunlight is perfect. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Get hydrangea to sprout roots for successful transplant," 30 Aug. 2019 He was subjected to the CIA's harshest interrogation methods, including waterboarding. CBS News, "Judge sets trial for men charged in 9/11 attacks," 30 Aug. 2019 Kiehl’s newest is an incredibly gentle product that removes dirt and oil without any harsh irritants. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "Can I Use My Boyfriend’s Moisturizer?," 30 Aug. 2019 Even in 2019, humanity’s sins are starting to bear their rotten fruit, in the form of scorching heat waves, relentless flooding, and brutal storms, all made harsher by climate change. Elliot Haspel, The New Republic, "Millennial Parents Are Failing Their Children," 30 Aug. 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

7 Sep 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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