sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing\ ˈsev-​riŋ How to pronounce severing (audio) , ˈse-​və-​ \

Definition of sever

transitive verb

: to put or keep apart : divide especially : to remove (something, such as a part) by or as if by cutting

intransitive verb

: to become separated

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Choose the Right Synonym for sever

separate, part, divide, sever, sunder, divorce mean to become or cause to become disunited or disjointed. separate may imply any of several causes such as dispersion, removal of one from others, or presence of an intervening thing. separated her personal life from her career part implies the separating of things or persons in close union or association. vowed never to part divide implies separating into pieces or sections by cutting or breaking. civil war divided the nation sever implies violence especially in the removal of a part or member. a severed limb sunder suggests violent rending or wrenching apart. a city sundered by racial conflict divorce implies separating two things that commonly interact and belong together. cannot divorce scientific research from moral responsibility

Examples of sever in a Sentence

He severed the lowest tree limbs. His finger was severed in the accident. Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web But there is something that always pulls me back to Iraq, a single strand of connective tissue that no amount of time or distance can seem to sever. New York Times, "They Came for My Father Nearly 30 Years Ago. It Still Haunts Me.," 6 Oct. 2020 The goal is to sever enough transmission that R Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, "On Twitter, health experts weigh in on Trump’s positive coronavirus test," 2 Oct. 2020 But that doesn’t always sever their financially rewarding relationships with big pharma. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "Disgraced researchers can still reap drug industry payouts," 1 Oct. 2020 The Justices, including Judge Barrett, would most likely strike down but sever the mandate. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The GOP’s ObamaCare Self-Sabotage," 27 Sep. 2020 While the United Kingdom flounders through its divorce from the European Union, Switzerland is holding a national referendum that would sever key parts of the Swiss-EU relationship. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Helvexit?," 17 Sep. 2020 Watch was in part designed as a way to sever you from being tethered to your phone. Boone Ashworth, Wired, "The New Apple Watch Would Like to ‘See’ Your Blood," 15 Sep. 2020 Experts say the study confirms India's limited and restrictive testing masked the actual toll and underlines the fact that the harsh lockdown was only able to slow the spread of the virus, not sever the chain of transmission. Aniruddha Ghosal, Star Tribune, "Study finds India missed early cases, lockdown was leaky," 11 Sep. 2020 Just this summer, numerous students and alumni -- including two NFL stars -- have called on Clemson University to sever its ties with John C. Calhoun, the slave-owning former US vice president whose plantation became its campus. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "The University of Oregon is covering racist murals in its library, one of which references the need to conserve 'our racial heritage'," 14 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sever.' 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 sever

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sever

Middle English, from Anglo-French severer, from Latin separare — more at separate

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Time Traveler for sever

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sever

Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for sever


How to pronounce sever (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sever

: to cut off (something) : to remove or separate (something) by cutting
: to end (a relationship, connection, etc.) completely


sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing

Kids Definition of sever

: to cut off … the sword … severed the tip of his tail.— Brian Jacques, Redwall
sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing

Legal Definition of sever

1 : to end (a joint tenancy) by ending one or all of the unities of time, title, possession, or interest (as by conveying one tenant's interest to another party)
2 : to separate (as a contract) into different parts (as independent obligations) in order to treat each separately
3a : to try (criminal offenses or defendants) separately in order to avoid prejudice
b : to split (a criminal trial) into multiple trials in order to avoid prejudice
c : to try (civil claims or issues pleaded in the same case) separately

Other Words from sever

severance \ ˈse-​vrəns, -​və-​rens How to pronounce severance (audio) \ noun

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