\ 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 James deleted the post after receiving harsh criticism for suggesting the police officer was wrong to protect the victim of the stabbing attack. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Marcellus Wiley slams LeBron James over deleted tweet about Columbus police officer: 'You can't be that irresponsible'," 23 Apr. 2021 The drama of the show was based on the (flimsy) notion that harsh criticism is a more effective motivator than praise. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "The Afrofuturist Sounds of Dawn Richard," 19 Apr. 2021 Jennifer Carnahan won another term as chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota on Saturday, beating back a challenge from a state senator despite harsh criticism of her performance from other top party leaders. Patrick Condon, Star Tribune, "Jennifer Carnahan reelected to lead Minnesota Republican Party," 10 Apr. 2021 The harsh criticism from the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), combined with a string of communication blunders by AstraZeneca, has given many researchers pause about the company—and, in turn, the vaccine. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "AstraZeneca lowers efficacy claim for COVID-19 vaccine, a bit, after board's rebuke," 25 Mar. 2021 Murphy's order on March 31, 2020 is similar to the one that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has received harsh criticism over. Tyler Olson, Fox News, "New Jersey GOP candidate for governor aims to make Murphy nursing home order issue in 2021 race," 17 Mar. 2021 For his part, Gabbana is aiming to silence those who have delivered harsh criticism. Washington Post, "Just let them keep talking," 16 Mar. 2021 The move drew harsh criticism from national health experts and other states around the nation, as the pandemic continues and vaccine distribution progress has yet to reach restaurant workers in many areas. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, "Gov. Ducey lifted capacity limits. Here's what it means for Arizona restaurants and bars," 6 Mar. 2021 Abbott's decision to end the mandate drew harsh criticism from doctors, according to Houston Chronicle reporters. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, "H-E-B to lift mask mandate for shoppers," 2 Mar. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Harsh.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harsh. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for harsh



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


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on harsh

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harsh

Nglish: Translation of harsh for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harsh for Arabic Speakers

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