severe

adjective
se·​vere | \ sə-ˈvir How to pronounce severe (audio) \
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

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 Tens of thousands of troops were sent into the region in a major crackdown, accompanied by an internet blackout and severe restrictions on journalists. Swati Gupta And Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN, "Indian army captain charged with murdering three men in Kashmir Valley," 28 Dec. 2020 Even with a coronavirus pandemic putting severe restrictions on the restaurant industry, two longtime employees at Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Waukegan saw 2020 as the right time to buy the eatery. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "Year in review: Lake County restaurants adapt in effort to survive," 28 Dec. 2020 Sixteen million people are under new severe tier 4 restrictions, and there are suggestions that these tougher new rules could be in place for months. Star Tribune, "U.K. should have reacted more quickly to new coronavirus strain," 27 Dec. 2020 Fears of the mutation prompted travel bans to the region by European countries and Canada over the weekend, as well as severe lockdown restrictions on millions in London and across southern England. Washington Post, "U.S. stocks sink as UK coronavirus mutation sparks alarm," 21 Dec. 2020 In this season when respiratory virus illnesses become more common and people move indoors to keep warm, many states are turning to more severe restrictions on businesses and outdoor activities. Scott W. Atlas, WSJ, "A Pandemic of Misinformation," 21 Dec. 2020 Nearly the entire state now is under the most severe restrictions. CBS News, "California distributes thousands of body bags as COVID death toll mounts: "People are going to die that don't need to die"," 16 Dec. 2020 That approach, Noem said, left her state economically resilient and socially vibrant, while states led by Democratic governors who imposed severe restrictions are now experiencing twin health and fiscal calamities. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Kristi Noem rebuts coronavirus critics during budget speech," 8 Dec. 2020 And despite weeks of increasingly severe restrictions on people’s work and social lives, this most recent surge has swelled to record peaks, seemingly unabated. Erin Allday, SFChronicle.com, "Stakes in stay-home order higher this time around in Bay Area," 5 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for severe

Time Traveler

The first known use of severe was in 1548

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Statistics for severe

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/severe. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for severe

severe

adjective
How to pronounce severe (audio)

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 How to pronounce severe (audio) \
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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Comments on severe

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