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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The pro-democracy movement fears that the austerity measures could led to a spike in the inflation rate which increased to 60% in November. Samy Magdy, USA TODAY, "Sudan sentences 27 security officials to death for torturing, killing protester," 30 Dec. 2019 Leaders agreed to sharp austerity measures in return for bailouts from the Union and the International Monetary Fund. NBC News, "From bankruptcies to stock market highs, this was a decade of turnarounds," 27 Dec. 2019 Especially when our economy is at an all-time high, austerity policies should not govern the future of health care in our country. Lashyra Nolen, STAT, "Congress: Don’t eliminate funding for the diversity creating Health Career Opportunity Program," 12 Dec. 2019 Argentina's populist Peronists capitalized on center-right president Mauricio Macri's austerity measures to defeat him in October. Rafael Romo, CNN, "Five keys to understanding Latin America's turmoil," 3 Dec. 2019 Just days before the Santiago protests began, sections of Peru had risen up to protest against a political crisis over anti-corruption efforts, and the Ecuadorean people had taken to the streets demanding an end to austerity measures. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Chile is a rich country and that is why its people are so angry," 27 Nov. 2019 With regards to the economy, Johnson is promising an end to austerity (without tax hikes). Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Boris Johnson’s Extraordinary Manifesto," 26 Nov. 2019 The firm’s clients might want a steer on the political risks affecting public finances in Brazil, or to gauge the social pressures that could arise as a consequence of an austerity programme in Egypt. The Economist, "How machine learning is revolutionising market intelligence," 21 Nov. 2019 The aim was to show a move from post war austerity to more optimistic times. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Crown's Costume Designer on Dressing Princess Margaret Like Elizabeth Taylor," 20 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of austerity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for austerity

see austere

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about austerity

Time Traveler for austerity

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for austerity

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Austerity.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on austerity

What made you want to look up austerity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!