aus·ter·i·ty | \ ȯ-ˈster-ə-tē , -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

Britain's austerity spending cuts would mean a reduction of 14,000 in the number of military personnel, a 10 per cent reduction from the current staffing level of 137,000. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "SH-99 construction drawing near in Liberty County," 26 June 2018 There is a perennial lightness to his food, which is not to say austerity. Jonathan Kauffman,, "The Mission’s best vegetarian-friendly restaurants," 17 June 2018 Politicians frame the threat to Social Security too narrowly, and counsel austerityThe declining birthrate itself has the potential to exacerbate economic strain. Alex Press, Vox, "The record-low birthrate offers yet another sign that millennials are economically screwed," 31 May 2018 The platform includes restructuring the national debt and to tie repayments to growth, cut taxes on small businesses, and end austerity by allowing the government to run a smaller budget surplus. Felipe Ossa, Daily Intelligencer, "Yanis Varoufakis Has Some Ideas About How to Save The Future," 25 May 2018 Andrew Cuomo has put us on this austerity budget, but these are relatively prosperous times in New York. Justine Harman, Glamour, "Cynthia Nixon: ‘I Have a Right to Be Here’," 22 Mar. 2018 The caps were put in place in 2011 after a fiscal showdown between Obama and GOP congressional leaders, who demanded spending austerity. Author: Mike Debonis, Erica Werner, Anchorage Daily News, "Brief government shutdown ends after Senate, House pass sweeping spending bill," 9 Feb. 2018 Myths can serve a useful function in boosting morale, particularly when morale has been eroded by a decade of austerity. The Economist, "The three myths of the NHS," 28 June 2018 Assuming Brenda prevails over his Democratic rival this fall, one of the newest Republicans in Kentucky’s state house will be a politician who owes his seat to a coalition of public workers and opponents of austerity. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Red-State Teachers Just Scored a Victory That Could Transform the GOP," 23 May 2018

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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Statistics for austerity

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for austerity

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

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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

austerities : things that are done to live in a simple and plain way


aus·ter·i·ty | \ ȯ-ˈster-ə-tē \

Kids Definition of austerity

: lack of all luxury

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Comments on austerity

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the setting in which something occurs

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