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 With television production ramping up again during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of TV’s popular series will return to distract viewers from the harsh reality of 2020 life. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "ABC’s ‘The Conners’ is tackling the pandemic head-on," 17 Oct. 2020 There are few failings that Collins can point to, and being too harsh on Ardern, who most people now approve of, could backfire. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Judith Collins, the woman taking on juggernaut Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand's election," 15 Oct. 2020 Those numbers reflect a harsh reality for universities and colleges that outbreaks among college students may be nearly impossible to prevent. oregonlive, "Coronavirus outbreaks hit California colleges despite intense preparation," 8 Oct. 2020 One harsh reality in the food industry is that all knives can become dull, regardless of brand reputation or construction quality. Michael Pollick, chicagotribune.com, "The best knife sharpener of 2020," 6 Oct. 2020 The harsh reality of Fulmer's prior knee and elbow surgeries, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, forced him to rehabilitate in the majors. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Where Detroit Tigers' Michael Fulmer is headed after 'trial run' in 2020," 26 Sep. 2020 The harsh reality is that the Travis Scott meal is just a Quarter Pounder with cheese, lettuce and bacon, with medium fries and barbecue sauce. Shelby Stewart, Houston Chronicle, "I tried the McDonald's Travis Scott meal, and it didn’t even taste like him," 25 Sep. 2020 The harsh reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, as case numbers continue to rise in some places. Christy Piña, Woman's Day, "The CDC Released Guidelines for Trick-or-Treating in 2020, and They Might Put a Damper on Your Plans," 22 Sep. 2020 Honest to God, the entire process is very harsh on your body. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Stephanie Valencia on why she can no longer watch the show," 20 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for harsh

Time Traveler

The first known use of harsh was in the 14th century

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Statistics for harsh

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harsh.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harsh. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for harsh

harsh

adjective
How to pronounce harsh (audio)

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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