adjective \ˈstərn\

: very serious especially in an unfriendly way

: expressing strong disapproval or criticism

: not likely to change or become weaker

Full Definition of STERN

a :  having a definite hardness or severity of nature or manner :  austere
b :  expressive of severe displeasure :  harsh
:  forbidding or gloomy in appearance
:  inexorable <stern necessity>
:  sturdy, stout <a stern resolve>
stern·ly adverb
stern·ness \ˈstərn-nəs\ noun

Examples of STERN

  1. He gave me a stern look.
  2. <the army post's stern commander always had the utmost respect of those who served under him>

Origin of STERN

Middle English sterne, from Old English styrne; akin to Old English starian to stare — more at stare
First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with STERN



: the back part of a boat or ship

Full Definition of STERN

:  the rear end of a boat
:  a hinder or rear part :  the last or latter part

Origin of STERN

Middle English, rudder, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse stjōrn steering, rudder; akin to Old English stīeran to steer — more at steer
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Nautical Terms

avast, aweigh, flotsam, jib, keel, lee, port, starboard, stay


biographical name \ˈstərn\

Definition of STERN

Isaac 1920–2001 Am. (Russ.-born) violinist


biographical name

Definition of STERN

Otto 1888–1969 Am. (Ger.-born) physicist


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