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

Despite their reputation as harsh and buzzy, today’s aluminum road bikes can roll smoothly and soak up vibration, without taking away from their crisp acceleration. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Road Bikes for Every Cyclist," 8 May 2019 That said, there are plenty of treatment options at every price point, and as the experts will tell you that gentle, targeted approaches will always work better than too-harsh products that strip your skin of moisture. Allure, "The 14 Best Cystic Acne Treatments, According to Dermatologists," 28 Mar. 2019 Fears rose that Mugabe had gone but his harsh system remained. Farai Mutsaka, Fox News, "As Zimbabwe's leader preaches a new era, military a concern," 4 Aug. 2018 Obama’s speech noted how Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule. Andrew Meldrum, The Seattle Times, "Obama delivers veiled rebuke to Trump in Mandela address," 17 July 2018 The same could be said of poor Appalachian whites, recent immigrants from countries with harsh caste systems, or other communities in which corporal punishment remains common. David Roberts, Vox, "Please don’t spank your kids," 3 July 2018 How to get started: Acids, especially those used to treat acne, tend to be drying and harsh, but most people—even those with sensitive skin or rosacea—are able to use azelaic acid with minimal problems, Dr. Zampella says. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Why So Many People Swear By Azelaic Acid to Combat Acne and Redness," 5 Mar. 2019 That’s in part because Juul uses a form of nicotine that’s less harsh, and therefore less unpleasant to people who aren’t used to inhaling the stuff, King says. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "What it means that the Surgeon General now calls vaping an ‘epidemic’," 18 Dec. 2018 For those who wish the small-ball Halep well, a group that does seem populous, the assignment of Muguruza seems rather harsh. Chuck Culpepper, chicagotribune.com, "Garbine Muguruza takes nothing for granted in rout of Maria Sharapova at French Open," 6 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

18 May 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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