austere

adjective
aus·​tere | \ ȯ-ˈstir How to pronounce austere (audio) also -ˈster\

Definition of austere

1a : stern and cold in appearance or manner an austere Puritan
b : somber, grave an austere critic
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

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Other Words from austere

austerely adverb
austereness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for austere

severe, stern, austere, ascetic mean given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint. severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness. severe military discipline stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character. stern arbiters of public morality austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial. living an austere life in the country ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline. the ascetic life of the monks

Examples of austere in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

On a night-time visit business-school students surrounded his tomb, as Franciscans in black robes charmed them with stories of their austere daily lives. The Economist, "Popenomics," 7 Sep. 2019 Such Wahhabism was austere and extreme but, like Arabia’s interior, largely irrelevant in the broader Islamic world. Michael Rubin, National Review, "Turkey’s Africa Strategy Threatens to Breed Islamist Extremism," 26 June 2019 Our solutions are based on firsthand experience operating in the most austere environments. Marc Fisher, Washington Post, "Behind Erik Prince’s China venture," 4 May 2018 That stance often put him at odds with the Satmar Hasidim, America’s largest and arguably most austere sect and the dominant one in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Viznitz also have a significant presence. Joseph Berger, New York Times, "Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Leader of Large Hasidic Sect, Dies at 95," 16 Mar. 2018 Lave Tete,’’ 2001, an austere sculpture depicting a black woman bent double, washing her hair in a way that evokes ritual cleansing of the head performed in Haitian Vodou initiation ceremonies. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "An urgent look at 400 years of history: ‘Black Atlantic’ exhibit in Oberlin explores impact of slavery," 25 Aug. 2019 The space is austere and solemn, with beige walls and icy climate control. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian, "A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home," 23 Aug. 2019 That tension is just as affecting as the undeniable beauty that fills the room; the space is austere, almost empty, and brimming with richness all at once. Murray Whyte, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The Forty Part Motet’ strikes a perfect note at the Clark Art Institute," 15 Aug. 2019 Standing in front of an austere white church on a foggy morning, wearing a thrifted housecoat, looking straight ahead with a worried look on her face. Eryn Loeb, Longreads, "When Friendship Fades But the Images Linger," 9 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'austere.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of austere

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for austere

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin austerus, from Greek austēros harsh, severe; akin to Greek hauos dry — more at sere

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Statistics for austere

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for austere

The first known use of austere was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for austere

austere

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of austere

: simple or plain : not fancy
of a person : having a serious and unfriendly quality
: having few pleasures : simple and harsh

austere

adjective
aus·​tere | \ ȯ-ˈstir How to pronounce austere (audio) \

Kids Definition of austere

1 : seeming or acting serious and unfriendly an austere family
2 : plain entry 1 sense 1 an austere room

Other Words from austere

austerely adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on austere

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for austere

Spanish Central: Translation of austere

Nglish: Translation of austere for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of austere for Arabic Speakers

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