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An experience that is frightening, chilling, or disturbing, either due to an implied or actual element of danger, or from being physically or emotionally unpleasant. With so much traffic, cycling in this city can be a harrowing experience. Walking through that graveyard last night was quite the harrowing experience. The film is very good, but it's a bit of a harrowing experience; it doesn't shy away from intense subject matter.
See also: experience