- 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 harshest
In the interview, Ponomarev reserved some of his harshest words for Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of The Nation.The Bolshevik Who Thinks ‘The Nation’ Is Too Left Wing
October 26, 2014
It is people like the al Wakeel family who pay the harshest price for this military duel.Israel’s Campaign to Send Gaza Back to the Stone Age
July 29, 2014
His harshest words of criticism were aimed at those who were prideful.June, The Month When Pride Isn’t a Sin
June 22, 2014
Even the harshest of U.S. and world sanctions have not brought major adversaries to their knees.Les Gelb Puts Russia in Its Place—and Critics in Theirs
Leslie H. Gelb
April 2, 2014
The harshest and most sweeping dismissal of Paul comes not from the left but from the right.Rand Paul is Politically Divergent. And So He Must Be Stopped.
March 27, 2014
In judging his fellow-men this is Shakespeare's harshest word.The Man Shakespeare
This is, as I have said, not the saddest, but certainly the harshest of his stories.Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens
G. K. Chesterton
The sound of that harshest and most jarring of all musical instruments was every after hateful to her.We Two
“Here, you, get a swab and mop that up,” I commanded in my harshest manner.The Mutiny of the Elsinore
This was the harshest that my lady e'er spoke, either to me or to Marian.A Brother To Dragons and Other Old-time Tales
- 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 harshest
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.