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 Deftly translated by Séan Kinsella, this selection of odd, austere yet transfixing stories from various points of Askildsen's long career showcases his stylistic verve and his relentless scrutiny of human frailties and absurdities. Malcom Forbes Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Everything Like Before,' by Kjell Askildsen, translated from the Norwegian by Sean Kinsella," 23 Apr. 2021 The store, the brand’s first outside Japan, is calm and austere. New York Times, "New York, It’s Time to Shop! (Masks on, Please)," 22 Apr. 2021 But the event’s most poignant pictures emerged right here on Earth, taken in an austere room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "See Ingenuity Team's Joy After the First Mars Helicopter Soars," 19 Apr. 2021 With an active war going on in Afghanistan, there is the underlying consideration towards rural terrain, austere conditions, small cities, and IEDs. Vikram Mittal, Forbes, "The Implications Of the Withdrawal Of US Troop From Afghanistan On Army Modernization," 19 Apr. 2021 Over the decades, the impractically-long mourning wardrobe traditions went out of style, but Victoria's influence is still present in modern royal mourning periods, from the austere colors to the rigid adherence to dress codes. Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, "A brief history of Britain's royal mourning dress codes," 16 Apr. 2021 Would people simply Zoom in from their homes, wearing whatever suited them, echoing the more austere clothing choices of 1942? Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Hollywood History: How World War II forced the Academy to rethink the 1942 Oscars," 16 Apr. 2021 Many minority communities also suffered at the hands of the Taliban, which espouses a strict and austere version of Islam. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Blinken visits Afghanistan after Biden announces U.S. troop withdrawal," 15 Apr. 2021 And Coinbase joining the ranks of Tesla and SPACs in stock-market hype cuts against the austere, Austrian economic philosophy of most of its proponents. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Good for Coinbase, Bad for Crypto," 15 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for austere

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Austere.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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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Comments on austere

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