austere

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

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

The scene might have sparked memories of more austere outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq for veterans of those wars, right down to the diesel fumes of the generators and the seven-minute showers. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, "In Fort Sam’s tranquil quadrangle, Buchanan was at center of storm," 7 July 2019 To be clear, Khosrowshahi has conceded that drivers’ working conditions have grown too austere. Julianne Tveten, The New Republic, "Silicon Valley’s “Flexibility” Fetish," 31 May 2018 The guardianship laws are legal codes based on an austere Saudi interpretation of Islam. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Saudi Arabia Granted Women the Right to Drive. A Year on, It’s Still Complicated.," 24 June 2019 Families who lived an austere lifestyle to help pay for their kids' college fund might feel cheated. Chris Quintana, USA TODAY, "What's different about Bernie Sanders' student loan plan? It would help more rich people," 24 June 2019 The cylindrical, two-story crew habitat rises above the austere environment. David Kelly, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Life on Mars gets a test run in the Utah desert," 23 June 2019 And in notoriously austere Germany under Angela Merkel, the government is loosening the public pursestrings to allow for spending. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "The UK Conservative party has lost its bloody mind (fiscally speaking)," 13 June 2019 French director Vincent Huguet’s production was conservative and serviceable, if somewhat austere in eschewing the colorful spirit of a fairy tale. Larry Wolff, The New York Review of Books, "A Resonant Centenary for Strauss at the Vienna State Opera," 13 June 2019 White and bright blue, spare and austere, Paros was famous in antiquity for its soft, glowing marble. Adam Gopnik, Town & Country, "My First Visit to the Greek Islands Turned Out to Be a Journey Home," 20 May 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

12 Jul 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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