aus·​ter·​i·​ty | \ ȯ-ˈster-ə-tē How to pronounce austerity (audio) , -ˈste-rə- also -ˈstir-ə- \
plural austerities

Definition of austerity

1 : the quality or state of being austere: such as
a : a stern and serious quality the formal austerity of his manner
b : a plain and simple quality the austerity of the design
2 : enforced or extreme economy especially on a national scale lived through years of austerity after the war fiscal austerity a series of austerity measures [=measures taken to reduce spending]
3a : an austere act, manner, or attitude monastic self-denial and austerities
b : an ascetic (see ascetic sense 1) practice

Examples of austerity in a Sentence

the austerity of the design The austerity of their lifestyle was surprising. They lived through years of austerity after the war. the austerities practiced by monks
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Recent Examples on the Web The cult of Britain's National Health Service has been key to so many political fortunes over the decades, but no other leader has weaponized it more than Boris Johnson after years of austerity measures implemented by his Conservative Party. Zoltan Simon,, "Brussels Edition: Orban’s Move," 10 May 2020 Saudi stocks tanked to start the week, closing down more than 7% on Sunday after the country's finance minister warned tough austerity measures were in the works to rebalance the oil giant's finances. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Global markets sink as U.S.-China tensions over coronavirus worsen," 4 May 2020 Though the country didn’t ban travel from China until February 3 (a day after the United States) and its trajectory of new cases looked out of control in mid-March, austerity measures seemingly have brought COVID-19 to heel. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 30 Apr. 2020 Palihapitiya condemned new policies introduced by the central bank, citing the economic downturn that forced several European countries to adopt austerity measures to battle against a run on banks in the months after the 2008 financial crisis. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya rips Fed chairman for 'creating a bigger problem' during pandemic," 9 Apr. 2020 The biggest concern is whether Spain’s largely public health system is able to sustain the sharp increase in cases, especially after years of austerity measures exhausted resources in hospitals and health centers. Washington Post, "On the heels of Italy, Spain to go drastic in battling virus," 13 Mar. 2020 The biggest question is whether Spain’s largely public health system is able to sustain the sharp increase in cases, especially after years of austerity measures exhausted resources in hospitals and health centers. Fox News, "Spain looks to Italy for coronavirus lessons as 60,000 Spaniards go on lockdown," 13 Mar. 2020 Unfortunately, 30 to 40 years of austerity budgeting and budget cuts have left schools, workers and communities behind. oregonlive, "4 Democrats compete to represent northeast Washington County, part of Northwest Portland in Oregon House," 28 Apr. 2020 After the financial crisis of 2007-09, many governments chose austerity. The Economist, "The week in charts Covid-19’s debt bequest," 24 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'austerity.' 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 austerity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for austerity

see austere

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Time Traveler for austerity

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

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Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Austerity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for austerity


How to pronounce austerity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of austerity

: a simple and plain quality : an austere quality
: a situation in which there is not much money and it is spent only on things that are necessary
: things that are done to live in a simple and plain way


aus·​ter·​i·​ty | \ ȯ-ˈster-ə-tē How to pronounce austerity (audio) \

Kids Definition of austerity

: lack of all luxury

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