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

Italy’s deputy prime minister broke all the rules in 2018, declaring war on the European Union’s austerity and migration policies. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is 2018’s Biggest Winner," 7 Jan. 2019 Some opponents even accused Maduro of imposing a neoliberal blueprint — the ultimate insult in a country where hundreds were killed during days of looting the last time economic austerity was seriously attempted in 1989. Joshua Goodman, Fox News, "Venezuela merchants face arrest for defying Maduro's reforms," 7 Sep. 2018 Ben Power has done the astute, hypnotically cadenced English adaptation, and it has been directed with luxuriant austerity by the celebrated stage and film director Sam Mendes. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ Is a Transfixing Epic of Riches and Ruin," 13 July 2018 Purchasers, such as councils, are locked into deals for years, giving them little flexibility to respond to external shocks, such as the slashing of their budgets under the Conservatives’ austerity programme after 2010. The Economist, "Britain’s outsourcing model, copied around the world, is in trouble," 28 June 2018 Many in Poland, Hungary, and Eastern Europe, backers of her emphasis on austerity, would see her fall as a vindication of their hard line on refugees. Alan Crawford,, "As Merkel’s Power Drains, the Threat to Europe Grows," 27 June 2018 Jared Soares Jared Soares Though architecture has a reputation for austerity, Mustonen and Arsham join a line of modern practitioners who’ve found that emphasizing play makes for more engaging design. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Play it forward," 18 July 2018 This widespread radicalization ultimately led to the election of Europe’s first left-wing government, the Syriza party, which came to office in 2015 on an anti-austerity platform. Charly Wilder, New York Times, "Athens, Rising," 18 June 2018 His Socialists secured support for the no-confidence motion from a number of other parties in parliament, including the anti-austerity Podemos, Catalan pro-independence parties and the Basque Nationalist Party. Laura Smith-spark And Elena Gyldenkerne, CNN, "Astronaut Pedro Duque appointed to Spain's new Cabinet," 6 June 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

12 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on austerity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with austerity

Spanish Central: Translation of austerity

Nglish: Translation of austerity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of austerity for Arabic Speakers

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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