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 for harsh

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. 2019

Related Words for harshly

powerfully, brutally, firmly, gratingly, grimly

Examples from the Web for harshly

Contemporary Examples of harshly

Historical Examples of harshly

  • Thus across all the globe there harshly blow the winds of change.

  • Well, he told himself, harshly, he was not likely to get it.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • After this she would be on her guard, forestall Martin, do tenderly what he would do harshly.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • "Do not speak so harshly of poor King Pluto," said Prosperina, kissing her mother.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The woman asked him harshly, if he couldn't come home with the others.

British Dictionary definitions for harshly



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)
Derived Formsharshly, adverbharshness, noun

Word Origin for harsh

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 harshly

late 14c., from harsh + -ly (2).



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