- ungentle and unpleasant in action or effect: harsh treatment; harsh manners.
- grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere: a harsh life; a harsh master.
- physically uncomfortable; desolate; stark: a harsh land.
- unpleasant to the ear; grating; strident: a harsh voice; a harsh sound.
- unpleasantly rough, ragged, or coarse to the touch: a harsh surface.
- jarring to the eye or to the esthetic sense; unrefined; crude; raw: harsh colors.
- unpleasant to the taste or sense of smell; bitter; acrid: a harsh flavor; a harsh odor.
Origin of harsh
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for harsh
Why, some might be asking, am I being so harsh on their work so soon after they died?Trolls and Martyrdom: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie
January 9, 2015
Your letter highlights so many of the harsh realities trans people face, specifically in regard to how society rejects us.
Your death is symbolic of the harsh reality facing so many of us.
But this was the year when criticism of said women finally got the harsh words it deserved.Renée Zellweger Got a New Face—and Everyone Had An Opinion About It
December 29, 2014
As for his harsh—some might even say paranoid—opposition to European integration, “most of us would support him.”Vaclav Klaus, Libertarian Hero, Has His Wings Clipped by Cato Institute
December 22, 2014
The Castle of Villefranche was harsh and stern as its master.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Inspector's harsh voice brought out the words boastfully.Within the Law
His dreams were all of escape from this grinding, harsh farm.Dust
Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
He perceived that he had become the victim of a harsh and ruthless dealing.Meadow Grass
Yes, he has been so harsh to you; but it is his nature, he is so to every one, and you are not the only one whom he has bullied.The Black Tulip
Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
- rough or grating to the senses
- stern, severe, or cruel
- (tr) slang to cause (a state of elation) to be diminished or ended (esp in the phrases harsh someone's mellow and harsh someone's buzz)
Word Origin and History for harsh
originally of texture, "hairy," 1530s, probably from harske "rough, coarse, sour" (c.1300), a northern word of Scandinavian origin (cf. Danish and Norwegian harsk "rancid, rank"), related to Middle Low German harsch "rough, raw," German harst "a rake;" perhaps from PIE root *kars- "to scrape, scratch, rub, card" (cf. Lithuanian karsiu "to comb," Old Church Slavonic krasta, Russian korosta "to itch," Latin carduus "thistle," Sanskrit kasati "rubs, scratches"). Meaning "offensive to feelings" is from 1570s; "disagreeable, rude" from 1610s.