Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb sev·er \ˈse-vər\

Simple Definition of sever

  • : to cut off (something) : to remove or separate (something) by cutting

  • : to end (a relationship, connection, etc.) completely

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sever



play \ˈsev-riŋ, ˈse-və-\
  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to put or keep apart :  divide; especially :  to remove (as a part) by or as if by cutting

  3. intransitive verb
  4. :  to become separated

Examples of sever in a sentence

  1. He severed the lowest tree limbs.

  2. His finger was severed in the accident.

  3. Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country.

Origin and Etymology of sever

Middle English, from Anglo-French severer, from Latin separare — more at separate

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of sever

separate, part, divide, sever, sunder, divorce mean to become or cause to become disunited or disjointed. separate may imply any of several causes such as dispersion, removal of one from others, or presence of an intervening thing <separated her personal life from her career>. part implies the separating of things or persons in close union or association <vowed never to part>. divide implies separating into pieces or sections by cutting or breaking <civil war divided the nation>. sever implies violence especially in the removal of a part or member <a severed limb>. sunder suggests violent rending or wrenching apart <a city sundered by racial conflict>. divorce implies separating two things that commonly interact and belong together <cannot divorce scientific research from moral responsibility>.

SEVER Defined for Kids


verb sev·er \ˈse-vər\

Definition of sever for Students



  1. :  to cut off <… the sword … severed the tip of his tail. — Brian Jacques, Redwall>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb sev·er \ˈse-vər\

Legal Definition of sever



  1. 1 :  to end (a joint tenancy) by ending one or all of the unities of time, title, possession, or interest (as by conveying one tenant's interest to another party)

  2. 2 :  to separate (as a contract) into different parts (as independent obligations) in order to treat each separately

  3. 3a :  to try (criminal offenses or defendants) separately in order to avoid prejudice b :  to split (a criminal trial) into multiple trials in order to avoid prejudice c :  to try (civil claims or issues pleaded in the same case) separately


\ˈse-vrəns, -və-rens\ play noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sever? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).