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Rough vs Harsh vs Uneven vs Rugged vs Scabrous

Roughharshunevenruggedscabrous are comparable when they mean not having a smooth or even surface, exterior, or texture.

Rough, the usual and comprehensive word, basically applies to whatever may be said to have a surface or an exterior which to the sense of touch or to the sight is not smooth but is covered with perceptible inequalities (as points, bristles, projections, or ridges).

Often when applied to materials and substances employed in the arts and in manufacturing, rough means lacking a final finish (as of polishing, smoothing, or dressing).

By extension the term applies also to things which impress another than the tactile sense or one’s nerves or feelings as lacking in smoothness and evenness (see also RUDE ).

Harsh suggests a more definitely disagreeable sensation or impression than rough; when applied to what is felt with the hand, it implies a surface or texture that is distinctly unpleasant to the tactile sense or when applied to something heard, it suggests a rasping, grating quality and when applied to something seen, tasted, or smelled, it suggests a character or quality that is offensive or repellent to a sensitive person.

Unlike rough, harsh in its extended senses seldom implies lack of polish or refinement, but rather it suggests a nature that is unfeeling, cruel, and indifferent to the pain it inflicts or when applied to things, effectiveness in promoting discomforts or in imposing rigors.

Uneven applies either to surfaces or to lines and suggests a lack of uniformity in height through all the points of the surface or a lack of straightness and the presence of curves or angles.

In extended use it implies a lack of uniformity especially in excellence or agreeableness in all the parts (as of a life, a performance, or a work of art).

Rugged, more often applied to persons so strong and healthy or machines so strongly made that they can survive great stress and strain, is not uncommonly employed in the sense of rough; in such use it applies chiefly to surfaces broken by ridges, prominences, gorges, and gullies that can offer serious difficulty to the traveler or worker or which (as in the case of faces or countenances) are gaunt, seamed, or heavy-featured and suggest strength or maturity.

Rugged is also applicable to writing which has not been made smooth, flowing, and agreeable to the ear, sometimes, but not necessarily, through lack of care or skill.

Scabrous applies basically to a surface that is rough to the touch though not necessarily uneven; in this sense it is a generic term including such species as scaly, scurfy` scabby, thorny, prickly, knobby, and knotty when applied to surfaces.

In extended use scabrous applies chiefly to subject matter or to writings and works of art having subject matter that is prickly or thorny, or difficult to treat, often because it is offensive to the tastes or morals of the community.