Simple Definition of austere
: simple or plain : not fancy
of a person : having a serious and unfriendly quality
: having few pleasures : simple and harsh
Full Definition of austere
2 : morally strict : ascetic
3 : markedly simple or unadorned <an austere office> <an austere style of writing>
4 : giving little or no scope for pleasure <austere diets>
5 of a wine : having the flavor of acid or tannin predominant over fruit flavors usually indicating a capacity for aging
Examples of austere
This is a national conceit that is the comprehensible result of the religious beliefs of the early New England colonists (Calvinist religious dissenters, moved by millenarian expectations and theocratic ideas), which convinced them that their austere settlements in the wilderness represented a new start in humanity's story. —William Pfaff, New York Review, 15 Feb. 2007
For many of us with no firsthand familiarity with Greece, it's easy to forget that its celebrated ruins are a distortion and that we behold its ancient culture in its bare-bones lineaments. The austere white buildings of the Acropolis were once painted and parti-colored structures. —Brad Leithauser, New York Times Book Review, 26 Mar. 2006
I cut off my long dark hair, put on the habit (and it was quite becoming, in an austere sort of way), wrapped a big rosary around my waist, threw the cloak over my shoulders and set out. —Albert E. Cowdrey, Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2005
Certain kinds of landscapes—volatile ocean environments, sculpturally seductive alpine peaks, austere polar regions—became infused with what philosopher Edmund Burke called “a sort of delightful horror.” —James Balog, American Photo, May/June 2004
They choose austere furnishings for the office.
He was known for his austere style of writing.
They lived an austere life in the country.
Origin of austere
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin austerus, from Greek austēros harsh, severe; akin to Greek hauos dry — more at sere
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of austere
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