Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Origin: Probably from a Scandinavian language

harsh

adjective
     
harsh
1

conditions

harsh conditions are difficult to live in and very uncomfortable [= severe]:
The hostages are being held in harsh conditions.
harsh winter/weather/climate
the harsh Canadian winters
a young girl suddenly exposed to the harsh realities of life
2

treatment/criticism

severe, cruel, or unkind
harsh criticism/treatment/punishment etc
His theory met with harsh criticism from colleagues.
the harsh measures taken against the protestors
'She's an idiot!' 'Aren't you being a bit harsh?'
a harsh, authoritarian regime
He had harsh words (=severe criticism) for the Government.
3

sound

unpleasantly loud and rough [≠ soft]
harsh voice/laugh/tone etc
His voice was harsh and menacing.
4

light/colour

unpleasantly bright [≠ soft]:
She stood outside, blinking in the harsh sunlight.
5

lines/shapes etc

ugly and unpleasant to look at:
the harsh outline of the factories against the sky
6

cleaning substance

too strong and likely to damage the thing you are cleaning:
My skin is quite sensitive and I find some soaps too harsh.
harshly adverb:
'Shut up,' Boris said harshly.
harshness noun [uncountable]

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