Unpleasantly rough or severe in manner or speech; unkind or cruel; causing discomfort or pain.


US English

UK English

Part of speech



rough, cruel, bitter, harsh, searing, severe


gentle, kind, soft, mild, soothing, lenient

Example sentences

  • The harsh winter winds made it difficult to venture outside.
  • The prison conditions were harsh and inhumane.
  • Her harsh criticism left him feeling hurt and defeated.


“Harsh” is an adjective used to describe something that is considered to be severe, rough, or unforgiving. It suggests an intensity or roughness that is difficult to endure or withstand, and often implies a lack of gentleness or compassion. Things that are described as harsh may cause physical or emotional discomfort, and may be perceived as unpleasant or unpleasant. The word is often used to describe the natural environment, such as a harsh climate or a harsh terrain, but can also be used to describe human behavior, such as harsh words or harsh punishments. In these contexts, the word suggests a lack of empathy or a willingness to cause harm