[ hahrsh ]
See synonyms for: harshharsherharshestharshly on Thesaurus.com

  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.

  1. physically uncomfortable; desolate; stark: a harsh land.

  2. unpleasant to the ear; grating; strident: a harsh voice; a harsh sound.

  3. unpleasantly rough, ragged, or coarse to the touch: a harsh surface.

  4. jarring to the eye or to the esthetic sense; unrefined; crude; raw: harsh colors.

  5. unpleasant to the taste or sense of smell; bitter; acrid: a harsh flavor; a harsh odor.

Origin of harsh

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English harsk; cognate with German harsch,Danish harsk “rancid”

synonym study For harsh

2. See stern1.

Other words for harsh

Other words from harsh

  • harshly, adverb
  • harshness, noun
  • o·ver·harsh, adjective
  • o·ver·harsh·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·harsh·ness, noun
  • un·harsh, adjective
  • un·harsh·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use harsh in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for harsh


/ (hɑːʃ) /

  1. rough or grating to the senses

  2. stern, severe, or cruel

  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)

Origin of harsh

C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Middle Low German harsch, Norwegian harsk rancid

Derived forms of harsh

  • harshly, adverb
  • harshness, noun

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