from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Disagreeable to one of the senses, as.
  • adjective Disagreeable to the sense of hearing.
  • adjective Disagreeable to the sense of sight.
  • adjective Unpleasantly coarse and rough to the touch.
  • adjective Unpleasant, uncomfortable, or hostile to survival.
  • adjective Severe, cruel, or exacting.
  • adjective Disagreeable to the mind or feelings.
  • adjective Expressing displeasure or disapproval.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To sound harshly; crack.
  • Rough to the touch or to any of the senses; sharp or sour to the taste, discordant to the ear, inharmonious to the eye, etc.; grating; rasping; acrid; irritating: as, a harsh surface; harsh fruit; a harsh voice; a harsk combination of colors.
  • Hard or severe in effect; of such a nature as to be repellent from any physical point of view.
  • Repugnant to the mind or the sensibilities; mentally or morally forbidding; hard to bear, endure, resolve upon, etc.
  • Austere in character or severe in action; stern; hard; unkind.
  • Synonyms and Severe, Rigorous, etc. (see austere); acrimonious, ill-natured, ill-tempered, uncivil, ungracious, churlish, brutal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Rough; disagreeable; grating.
  • adjective disagreeable to the touch.
  • adjective disagreeable to the taste.
  • adjective disagreeable to the ear.
  • adjective Unpleasant and repulsive to the sensibilities; austere; crabbed; morose; abusive; abusive; severe; rough.
  • adjective (Painting, Drawing, etc.) Having violent contrasts of color, or of light and shade; lacking in harmony.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Unpleasantly rough to the touch or other senses.
  • adjective Severe or cruel.
  • verb intransitive, slang To negatively criticize.
  • verb transitive, slang to put a damper on (a mood).

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

  • adjective unpleasantly stern
  • adjective disagreeable to the senses
  • adjective sharply disagreeable; rigorous
  • adjective severe
  • adjective of textures that are rough to the touch or substances consisting of relatively large particles
  • adjective unkind or cruel or uncivil


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

[Middle English harsk, of Scandinavian origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Middle Low German harsch ("rough"), literally "hairy," from haer ("hair").


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  • This word seems to be a bit trendy at the moment.

    January 2, 2008