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 There’s something [about] the austerity and frugality of the northern countries; [the Belgians have] really a different approach [to clothing], one that is really more abstract and conceptual, but still with something visceral. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Sébastien Meunier on His 2005 “Homme-Sandwich” Collection and How Menswear Is Changing," 15 Jan. 2021 That budget austerity has created a flap with Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who is now challenging budget cuts in court. Shannon Prather, Star Tribune, "Toni Carter's measured diplomacy credited for major Ramsey County reforms," 9 Jan. 2021 In the north of England, the city of Preston has promoted cooperatives as an antidote to a decade of national austerity. New York Times, "Co-ops in Spain’s Basque Region Soften Capitalism’s Rough Edges," 29 Dec. 2020 Rather than being an austerity measure, as most defundings are, the demand to defund the police is about having more. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "End the Cops’ Cannibalization of Our Budgets," 23 Dec. 2020 In the middle of a pandemic, at a time of unprecedented austerity in higher education, Auburn’s decision to get rid of Malzahn on Sunday will go down as perhaps the most Auburn thing in the history of college football. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Gus Malzahn's firing shows there's no price too high for warped fantasy of Auburn football," 13 Dec. 2020 This is an endemic problem in a culture of civic austerity that is overly reliant on philanthropy. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "Klyde Warren Park’s splashy proposed fountain is a design belly flop," 11 Dec. 2020 Befitting these times, culinary historians believe the dish originated in Japan as a special-occasion meal during a period of relative austerity in the 17th century. Garrett Snyder Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Chirashi in the time of COVID-19: 4 new options for excellent takeout sushi," 27 Oct. 2020 Demonstrations broke out last year protesting austerity measures, in which hundreds were killed. WSJ, "Battered by U.S. Sanctions, Iran Finds a Lifeline in Domestic Economy," 24 Dec. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for austerity

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Austerity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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