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 But farther south a backlash against wage austerity is encouraging governments to adopt risky measures. The Economist, "Employment in southern Europe: better, but fragile," 22 Aug. 2019 In his telling, the wealthy declare their emancipation from society and impose brutal financial austerity. Harrison Stetler, The New York Review of Books, "‘Collapsologie’: Constructing an Idea of How Things Fall Apart," 21 Jan. 2020 Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno sent 400 doctors home in November, in the midst of protests against austerity, and suggested that some of them might have been inciting violence. Rachelle Krygier, Washington Post, "The U.S. is pushing Latin American allies to send their Cuban doctors packing — and several have," 21 Jan. 2020 GEORGE OURFALIAN/AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES June 2018 Jordan’s prime minister resigns in the face of protests over austerity. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Middle East Protesters Try to Avoid Mistakes of Arab Spring," 20 Jan. 2020 Johnson ran a campaign that stepped away from the austerity that his party had pursued for much of the decade and promised increased spending. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How Boris Johnson’s Brexit Won," 14 Dec. 2019 Before the 2010 election, which took place in the aftermath of the financial crisis and saw a Conservative Party bent on austerity take power from Labour, the index was at minus 16. David Goodman,, "U.K. Consumer Confidence Lowest Heading Into Election Since 2010," 29 Nov. 2019 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

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

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Austerity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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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