severe

adjective
se·​vere | \ sə-ˈvir \
severer; severest

Definition of severe

1a : strict in judgment, discipline, or government
b : of a strict or stern bearing or manner : austere
2 : rigorous in restraint, punishment, or requirement : stringent
3 : strongly critical or condemnatory a severe critic
4a : maintaining a scrupulously exacting standard of behavior or self-discipline
b : establishing exacting standards of accuracy and integrity in intellectual processes a severe logician
5 : sober or restrained in decoration or manner : plain a severe dress
6a : causing discomfort or hardship : harsh severe winters
b : very painful or harmful a severe wound
7 : requiring great effort : arduous a severe test
8 : of a great degree severe depression

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Other Words from severe

severely adverb
severeness noun
severity \ sə-​ˈver-​ə-​tē \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for severe

severe, stern, austere, ascetic mean given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint. severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness. severe military discipline stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character. stern arbiters of public morality austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial. living an austere life in the country ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline. the ascetic life of the monks

Examples of severe in a Sentence

On Feb. 25 regulators laid out details on how they will run the "stress tests" that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has promised on the biggest banks. Now those tests, designed to judge whether the banks have the capital to keep lending and absorb losses in a severe recession, face an exam of their own. — Jane Sasseen et al., Business Week, 9 Mar. 2009 A study in February in the journal Lancet, for instance, compared treatments for severe ankle sprains, concluding that a below-the-knee cast is superior to a tubular compression bandage. — Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 Between 2000 and 2004 the number of Americans covered by Medicaid rose by a remarkable eight million. Over the same period the ranks of the uninsured rose by six million. So without the growth of Medicaid, the uninsured population would have exploded, and we'd be facing a severe crisis in medical care. — Paul Krugman et al., New York Review of Books, 23 Mar. 2006 As several economists—most notably Jeffrey Williamson, of Harvard University—have written recently, international trade increased dramatically between 1850 and the First World War. Williamson goes on to point out that one consequence of this earlier period of globalization was that governments retreated into policies of severe trade and immigration restrictions. — Nicholas Lemann, New Yorker, 10 May 1999 The storm caused severe damage to the roof. The patient is in severe pain. children with severe learning disabilities In the most severe cases, the disease can lead to blindness. He suffered a severe head injury. He faces severe penalties for his actions. The war was a severe test of his leadership.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Here’s a diagram of what’s happening inside the brain as CTE grows more and more severe. Brian Resnick, Vox, "What a lifetime of playing football can do to the human brain," 4 Feb. 2019 The takeaway: Plants get worse at absorbing CO2 the more severe the climate gets. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Trees Don't Absorb Enough Carbon to Stave Off Climate Change, Says Study," 24 Jan. 2019 Any of these can indicate a more severe neurological issue, so don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. Korin Miller, SELF, "8 Vomiting Causes to Consider Next Time You’re Really Sick," 18 Jan. 2019 Their bid for Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper group by circulation, triggered fears across an industry hard hit by years of layoffs that more severe cuts are in store. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Tribune Publishing Recently Tried to Rekindle Merger Talks With Gannett," 16 Jan. 2019 While some infections go away within a week, other can become severe or even life-threatening. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Romaine Lettuce Is Not Safe to Eat, CDC Warns After E. Coli Outbreak," 20 Nov. 2018 Use a gentle hand People with rosacea, and especially those with severe forms, have inherently sensitive skin that's easily triggered by factors such as food, temperature, stress, and more. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "How to Wear Blush If You Have Rosacea," 6 Sep. 2018 Despite further pleas through screams and sobs, the family say the gun was not moved and that the child suffered a severe form of PTSD afterwards. Angela Helm, The Root, "Chicago PD Settle for $2.5 Million After Police Point Gun at 3-Year-Old," 4 July 2018 The group's April survey of 343 hospital pharmacists found 98 percent had dealt with moderate or severe shortages of the key opioids for treating serious pain: morphine, fentanyl and hydromorphone, better known as Dilaudid. Linda A. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "The other opioid crisis: Hospitals grapple with prolonged injected opioid shortage," 28 June 2018

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

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for severe

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin severus

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Statistics for severe

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for severe

The first known use of severe was in 1548

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More Definitions for severe

severe

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of severe

: very bad, serious, or unpleasant
: causing a lot of physical pain or suffering
: very harsh

severe

adjective
se·​vere | \ sə-ˈvir \
severer; severest

Kids Definition of severe

1 : serious in feeling or manner The sheriff gave me a … severe lecture about driving without a license …— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
2 : hard to bear or deal with severe suffering a severe test
3 : very strict : harsh a severe ruler
4 : not using unnecessary ornament : plain a severe style

Other Words from severe

severely adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on severe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for severe

Spanish Central: Translation of severe

Nglish: Translation of severe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of severe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on severe

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