from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Extremely distressing; agonizing: a harrowing experience.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Present participle of harrow.
  • adj. Causing pain or distress.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Heart-rending; excruciating; distressful; tragic: as, the harrowing details of a murder.
  • n. Same as harrying.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. extremely painful


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The stories that follow recall in harrowing detail some very specific moments that will live in infamy.

    Scene-Stealers readers respond with scary drunk stories! » Scene-Stealers

  • The batteries in the gameboy thing was so convoluted -- I'm playing with my daughter's gameboy (why??) but it's out of batteries (huh?) but I have some extra in my car (who does that??) so can you come help me put them in (how harrowing is replacing batteries? even a dumb kid would wonder why an adult with functioning hands would need help for this).

    Perfect strangers

  • A future presidential candidate might have participated in harrowing door-to-door sweeps during the bloody fight for Fallujah last month.

    December 2004

  • Both the semi-autobiographical Denisovich and the non-ficiton Archipelago described Gulag life in harrowing detail, and forced the West to finally acknowledge the grave human rights abuses perpetrated inside Stalin’s brutal work camps, which at their peak housed more than two million prisoners.

    Russian Gulags: Then and Now | Disinformation

  • Halle Shilling, who was attacked in the park two weeks after Levy disappeared, is to testify today, Haines said, and will recall her harrowing attack.

    Open statements begin in Chandra Levy trial

  • Sinbad, along with singer Sheryl Crow, was on that 1996 trip to Bosnia that Clinton has described as a harrowing international experience that makes her tested and ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call at the White House on day one, a claim for which she's taking much grief on the campaign trail.

    This is the best of all possible Campaigns....

  • CHO: That's what we like to call a harrowing ordeal.

    CNN Transcript Mar 4, 2008

  • The minor modification arises from the doctrine known as the harrowing of hell, according to which between the time of Jesus 'death and resurrection, he preached to the inhabitants of hell, some of whom accepted his message and thereby went to heaven.

    Heaven and Hell

  • The film is described as a harrowing and claustrophobic thriller which follows a woman being trained for her final act.

    Filmstalker: Day Night Day Night suicide bomber trailer

  • The film is described as a harrowing and claustrophobic thriller which...

    Filmstalker: March 2007 Archives


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  • It must have been painful. ;-)

    November 30, 2007

  • See also the harrowing of hell.

    November 30, 2007

  • An adjective applied nine times out of ten to ordeals. Scarcely seen as a gerund.

    November 29, 2007