aus·tere | \ȯ-ˈstir 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

His family said Nijm was arrested only because his long beard marked him as Salafi, a Muslim movement that, similarly to IS, advocates an austere interpretation of the faith. Hamza Hendawi, Fox News, "A neighbor's word can bring death sentence in Iraq IS trials," 9 July 2018 Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997, many built up currency reserves in an attempt to avoid the austere conditions attached to IMF assistance. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Argentina’s Warning: Currency Reserves Aren’t Everything," 10 May 2018 The wild card, rare in this very austere genre, is a second, overdubbed drum kit; against a dutiful steady wallop, its rumbles and crashes incite some anarchy. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "The Playlist: Beyoncé and Jay-Z Unite, and 12 More New Songs," 2 Mar. 2018 Similarly, the days of conquering Spanish cowboys and austere missionaries were long over by the 1890s in California. Caille Millner, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco has another chance to get rid of demeaning statue," 7 June 2018 The president might be very honest, and by all indications López Obrador is a very austere and honest guy. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "López Obrador, a Trump-bashing leftist, just won Mexico’s presidency in a landslide," 2 July 2018 While Junzi might serve the dishes its founders grew up eating, the food isn’t the only reason why the restaurants feel like a shinier version of my childhood in the austere North. Mary Wang, Vogue, "Could This Restaurant Be the Sweetgreen of Chinese Food?," 26 June 2018 The West Coast Light and Space movement was a response to New York Minimalism, when East Coast artists like Donald Judd and Frank Stella eschewed the tumult of abstract expressionism for austere, architectural pieces. Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Magazine, "Tech Meets Fine Art in Larry Bell’s Glass Cubes," 22 June 2018 At Monday’s Met Gala in New York, the hair and makeup of female stars ranged from soft and angelic to goth and austere. Melissa Magsaysay,, "At the Met Gala, stars show off their saintly side with classic looks. Here are 6 major beauty trends," 8 May 2018

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

18 Oct 2018

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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



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


aus·tere | \ȯ-ˈstir \

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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