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

Ahead of the debate, Biden had come under harsh criticism for boasting about his ability to form working relationships in past decades with segregationist Democratic Sens. Adam Edelman, NBC News, "Joe Biden, Kamala Harris in virtual tie for Democratic nomination, new poll shows," 2 July 2019 At that time in the mid-'90s, Iran was a relatively new fundamentalist Islamic state with harsh punishments for things like homosexuality and improper head coverings, many of which are still in place today. Rachel Lubitz, refinery29.com, "I Was Arrested For Having Long Hair. Now I'm In A Pantene Ad.," 30 June 2019 Is this person coming to the army to be an ideological right-winger and hate the Arabs and want to hurt them and impose harsh punishments on them? Batya Ungar-sargon, The New York Review of Books, "A Palestinian in Israeli Military Court: Issa Amro, the Judge, & Me," 17 June 2019 Sheroes’ Hangout launched in 2014, the brainchild of an activist group fighting for harsher punishments for attackers and more regulations on the sale of acid. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: This cafe in India is fully run by acid attack survivors," 18 Apr. 2019 Authoritarian parents are also more likely to resort to harsh punishments. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Five Types of Parenting Styles, Explained — And How They Affect Kids, According to Experts," 1 Apr. 2019 While not a lifelong ban, excommunication is a rare move that amounts to the harshest punishment available for a church member. Brady Mccombs, Fox News, "Mormon fighting to end youth interviews ousted from faith," 16 Sep. 2018 While not a lifelong ban, excommunication is a rare move that amounts to the harshest punishment available for a church member. Brady Mccombs, The Seattle Times, "Mormon man opposing youth interviews says ouster likely," 10 Sep. 2018 Idaho Republicans on Saturday spiked a last-ditch effort calling for harsher punishments for employers who hire workers living in the country illegally. Kimberlee Kruesi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Idaho GOP convention wrestles with immigration, gay marriage," 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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Learn More about harsh

Dictionary Entries near harsh

harrumph

harry

Harsanyi

harsh

harshen

harsh-furred hare

harslet

Statistics for harsh

Last Updated

13 Jul 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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