- ungentle and unpleasant in action or effect: harsh treatment; harsh manners.
- grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere: a harsh life; a harsh master.
- physically uncomfortable; desolate; stark: a harsh land.
- unpleasant to the ear; grating; strident: a harsh voice; a harsh sound.
- unpleasantly rough, ragged, or coarse to the touch: a harsh surface.
- jarring to the eye or to the esthetic sense; unrefined; crude; raw: harsh colors.
- unpleasant to the taste or sense of smell; bitter; acrid: a harsh flavor; a harsh odor.
- 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)
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.