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

His now viral video serves as a scary reminder to drivers to be aware of their surroundings during harsh conditions—and don't forget to look up! Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "This Terrifying Viral Video Shows Falling Snow Shatter a Driver's Windshield," 5 Dec. 2018 It’ll be taken apart and thoroughly scanned to understand how the harsh conditions of space — unpredictable levels of radiation, subatomic particles, and unstable power — can affect a commercial off-the-shelf computer. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "A supercomputer on the ISS will soon be open for science experiments," 1 Nov. 2018 Thanks to the region’s extremely harsh weather conditions, the goats develop fleece in two layers: a coarse, scraggly exterior and a downy dense under-fleece. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "How Loro Piana Works With Mongolian Goat Herds to Gather the World's Softest Cashmere," 25 Oct. 2018 Domestic box office gross: $0.19M The plot revolves around a scientist looking to create a new species that can survive in harsh conditions by combining plant and animal. Charles Stockdale And John Harrington, USA TODAY, "The 24 most forgettable superheroes in movies," 5 July 2018 Although the Hwasong-15 displayed a greater range than the Hwasong-14, there was no clear sign the North had made meaningful progress in the technology needed to ensure that a warhead would survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry. Kim Tong-hyung, chicagotribune.com, "Kim Jong Un could give up ICBMs but keep some nuclear forces," 11 June 2018 Big Tobacco discovered decades ago that freebase nicotine makes puffing on a cigar much harsher than inhaling cigarette smoke. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Juul’s nicotine salts are dominating the market — and other companies want in," 21 Nov. 2018 In fact few things in life are more harsh than living in a socialist economy. James Freeman, WSJ, "College Kids Not Endorsing Socialism, But They’re Open to It," 29 Oct. 2018 The lessons were pretty similar to ones that Quinn took from his military friend wounded in battle: Being accountable to one another was vital, as was adhering to what you’ve been taught in the harshest of circumstances. Albert Breer, SI.com, "How a Soldier’s Story Helped Dan Quinn Build the Falcons," 2 July 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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Dictionary Entries near harsh

harrumph

harry

Harsanyi

harsh

harshen

harsh-furred hare

harslet

Statistics for harsh

Last Updated

12 Jan 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 \
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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