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harsh

[hahrsh]
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adjective
  1. ungentle and unpleasant in action or effect: harsh treatment; harsh manners.
  2. grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere: a harsh life; a harsh master.
  3. physically uncomfortable; desolate; stark: a harsh land.
  4. unpleasant to the ear; grating; strident: a harsh voice; a harsh sound.
  5. unpleasantly rough, ragged, or coarse to the touch: a harsh surface.
  6. jarring to the eye or to the esthetic sense; unrefined; crude; raw: harsh colors.
  7. unpleasant to the taste or sense of smell; bitter; acrid: a harsh flavor; a harsh odor.

Origin of harsh

1250–1300; Middle English harsk; cognate with German harsch, Danish harsk rancid
Related formsharsh·ly, adverbharsh·ness, nouno·ver·harsh, adjectiveo·ver·harsh·ly, adverbo·ver·harsh·ness, nounun·harsh, adjectiveun·harsh·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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2. brusque, hard, unfeeling, unkind, brutal, acrimonious, bad-tempered. See stern1. 3. rough. 4. discordant, dissonant, unharmonious. 6. unesthetic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for harshness

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I did not know, I said, that I had given occasion for this harshness.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • He is accused of harshness to boys that were placed under his care.

  • And Edward Newbury in particular was thought to have behaved with harshness.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • But Fyles remained unmoved, except that the harshness had gone out of his manner.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • There was a note of harshness in the voice that answered him.

    The Snare

    Rafael Sabatini


British Dictionary definitions for harshness

harsh

adjective
  1. rough or grating to the senses
  2. stern, severe, or cruel
verb
  1. (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)
Derived Formsharshly, adverbharshness, noun

Word Origin

C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Middle Low German harsch, Norwegian harsk rancid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for harshness

n.

late 14c., from harsh + -ness.

harsh

adj.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper