I had a test today an I was asked to complete “.... criminal” with a word formation for “hard”, I did it with the word “harsh”, is it correct?

  • 1
    I think they were looking for "hardened"—an idiomatic usage meaning "lacking in sympathy, pity, remorse, restraint, human kindness, etc."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 5:57
  • I like to see more of such creative questions. See also my comments below.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 7:48
  • @SvenYargs +1 True, but hardened need not always be negative. It has come to mean "incorrigible" only in some collocations like this. Cf. battle-hardened etc.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 7:50

1 Answer 1


The etymonline entries indicate that hard and harsh come from different root words.

It's more likely that the test was looking for the term hardened criminal.

hardened adjective 2.1 Utterly fixed in a habit or way of life seen as bad. ‘hardened criminals’ - ODO

  • It is not about the correct answer to the test question but the relation, if any, between hard and harsh as your first sentence talks about.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 7:57
  • 1
    @Kris I answered the question, then provided some useful information.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 8:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.