Harsh means severe or strict, particularly when referring to punishment. It would be a harsh punishment if you got grounded for two weeks just for coming home a little late for dinner.

There are many shades of meaning for the word harsh depending on its context, but all imply that something is more unpleasant than it needs to be. Harsh lighting hurts your eyes. A harsh disciplinarian gives out punishments that are too severe. Whereas constructive criticism is usually helpful, a harsh critique will only make you upset. The harsh reality of the world today is that millions of people are starving while others have too much.

Definitions of harsh
  1. adjective
    disagreeable to the senses
    “the harsh cry of a blue jay”
    “the harsh white light makes you screw up your eyes”
    harsh irritating smoke filled the hallway”
    disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings
  2. adjective
    of textures that are rough to the touch or substances consisting of relatively large particles
    synonyms: coarse
    coarse-grained, large-grained
    not having a fine texture
    coarse-grained, farinaceous, grainy, granular, granulose, gritty, mealy
    composed of or covered with particles resembling meal in texture or consistency
    made grainy or formed into granules
    plush-like, plushy
    (of textures) resembling plush
    loose, open
    (of textures) full of small openings or gaps
    rough, unsmooth
    having or caused by an irregular surface
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    of textures that are smooth to the touch or substances consisting of relatively small particles
    close, tight
    of textiles
    close-grained, fine-grained
    dense or compact in structure or texture, as a wood composed of small-diameter cells
    as fine and powdery as dust
    resembling flour in fine powdery texture
    not having granules
    fine-grained, powdered, powdery, pulverised, pulverized, small-grained
    consisting of fine particles
    have fine or very small constituent particles
    of extremely fine size or texture
    having a surface free from roughness or bumps or ridges or irregularities
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  3. adjective
    unkind or cruel or uncivil
    “had harsh words”
    “a harsh and unlovable old tyrant”
    synonyms: rough
    lacking kindness
  4. adjective
    “a harsh penalty”
    unusually great in degree or quantity or number
  5. adjective
    unpleasantly stern
    “wild and harsh country full of hot sand and cactus”
    synonyms: rough
    disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings
  6. adjective
    sharply disagreeable; rigorous
    “the harsh facts of court delays”
    synonyms: abrasive
    not to your liking
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