- 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 harshness
Simply stated, the harshness of the elements conspires to help, rather than hinder, the lucky few.How to Hitchhike a Plane—and Survive
April 22, 2014
“This is not a future of harshness but of bespoke details,” production designer K.K. Barrett recently explained.How ‘Her’ Gets the Future Right
December 21, 2013
But did he expect the harshness of the criticism from the like of Fox News?Dad: Why I Let My 18-Month-Old Daughter Play With Gorillas
September 24, 2012
The bullet fee well symbolizes the harshness of a brutal police state that cloaks itself in the trappings of religion.Where Iran's Regime Learned Its Tricks
June 26, 2009
I did not know, I said, that I had given occasion for this harshness.Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
He is accused of harshness to boys that were placed under his care.The Letters of Robert Burns
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
There was a note of harshness in the voice that answered him.The Snare
- 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 harshness
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.