Definition of “harsh” - English Dictionary

“harsh” in British English

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uk /hɑːʃ/ us /hɑːrʃ/

harsh adjective (UNKIND)

C1 unpleasant, unkind, cruel, or more severe than is necessary:

harsh criticism
The children had had a harsh upbringing.
We thought the punishment was rather harsh for such a minor offence.
"There is no alternative," she said in a harsh voice.
He said some harsh words (= spoke unkindly) about his brother.

More examples

adverb uk /ˈhɑːʃ.li/ us /ˈhɑːrʃ.li/


I thought she'd been treated rather harshly.
noun [ U ] uk /ˈhɑːʃ.nəs/ us /ˈhɑːrʃ.nəs/

the harshness of the punishment

(Definition of “harsh” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“harsh” in American English

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harshadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /hɑrʃ/

harsh adjective [ -er/-est only ] (UNKIND)

unkind or cruel:

harsh criticism

harsh adjective [ -er/-est only ] (SEVERE)

severe and unpleasant:

a harsh winter
harsh lighting

(Definition of “harsh” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)