adj. harsh·er, harsh·est
1. Disagreeable to one of the senses, as:
a. Disagreeable to the sense of hearing: a harsh voice.
b. Disagreeable to the sense of sight: harsh lighting.
c. Unpleasantly coarse and rough to the touch: harsh burlap.
2. Unpleasant, uncomfortable, or hostile to survival: a harsh wilderness; a harsh winter.
3. Severe, cruel, or exacting: harsh punishment; a harsh overseer.
4. Disagreeable to the mind or feelings: harsh words.
5. Expressing displeasure or disapproval: gave me a harsh look.
[Middle English harsk, of Scandinavian origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.