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 music is austere, crisp and elegant, yet the playing has an informal, conversational air—as if three old friends were talking about a new but relevant subject. Martin Johnson, WSJ, "‘Quiet Revolution’ by Ben Allison Review: Blast From the Past," 5 Nov. 2018 Its consistent push for austere policies might seem sensible, with a government debt pile climbing toward 250% of GDP. Mike Bird, WSJ, "The Myths and Legends of Japan’s 20 Years With Zero Interest Rates," 13 Feb. 2019 While Meghan Markle wore a conservative, almost austere, wedding gown, Eugenie might choose an edgier dress that makes a real impact on bridal trends. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "There’s another royal wedding coming up: Princess Eugenie’s," 5 Oct. 2018 The home studio was austere, containing only a chair, a large table and several filing cabinets; lighting consisted of a lamp clamped on to the table’s edge and a square fluorescent light on the ceiling. Lesley M. M. Blume, WSJ, "Master Photographer Irving Penn’s First Major Painting Exhibition: An Exclusive Look," 6 Sep. 2018 The dzong's austere, slightly sloping white walls rise up on the far side of a bridge, forming a maze of courtyards that was the seat of the Bhutanese government until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. Lawrence Osborne, Town & Country, "Why Everyone Is Traveling to Bhutan," 30 Mar. 2015 Meanwhile, Aunt Zelda, played by Miranda Otto, is dark-spirited with an austere flair. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Why The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Is the Perfect Last-Minute Halloween Costume Inspiration," 25 Oct. 2018 It was built for her uncle and aunt, Harold and Georgette Wetmore Brown, in 1894; the austere granite exterior of the baronial structure designed by local practitioner Dudley Newton. Michael Henry Adams, Town & Country, "Inside the Auction of Eileen Slocum's Astounding Newport Mansion," 28 Sep. 2018 From Niger and Morocco to Peru, Chile, and the scrubby plains of Scottsdale, Arizona and Hidden Valley, Utah, the properties manifest an endearingly austere approach to luxury. Marley Marius, Vogue, "8 of the Most Swoon-Worthy Interior Design Books Arriving This Fall," 22 Aug. 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

8 Mar 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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