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

The Houston, Dallas and Austin metro areas ranked in the top ten nationally for severe shortages of available and affordable housing, according to the analysis. Bill Lambrecht, ExpressNews.com, "Julián Castro draws on HUD experience as 2020 candidates pitch affordable housing plans," 13 June 2019 Clayborn ran from the scene with his girlfriend, who had to climb out the back window of the Chevy because of the severe damage to the front end, according to a criminal complaint. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Driver in hit-and-run death of DPW worker is sentenced to 12 years in prison," 13 June 2019 While the plan has been in the works for 20 years, the residential units will arrive at a time when San Francisco is facing a severe housing shortage. J.k. Dineen, SFChronicle.com, "Development on SF’s Yerba Buena Island an early step in Treasure Island project," 12 June 2019 Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics Ortiz, 43, was shot in the back and suffered severe internal damage. NBC News, "Suspected gunman in David Ortiz shooting arrested as authorities reveal $400K plot to kill him," 12 June 2019 Her odd job is an inventive response to the economic chaos gripping the once-wealthy oil nation, where severe shortages of food and medicine have driven more than 4 million Venezuelans to seek refuge around the world in recent years. Washington Post, "Venezuelans adopt recycling habits amid economic uncertainty," 11 June 2019 Photographs showing severe damage to seven of 16 enemy airfields back of the fighting zone attacked yesterday by a record force of 1400 American heavy bombers. Wes Gallagher, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. TROOPS CAPTURE MONTEBOURG," 9 June 2019 The once-wealthy oil nation is now facing severe shortages of basic goods and hyperinflation that is expected to surpass 10 million percent this year, according to a recent IMF estimate. Time, "After 4 Months, Venezuela Reopens Border Crossing With Colombia," 8 June 2019 But qualifying for housing takes months, and Los Angeles has a severe shortage of apartment units for poor people; 500 homeless veterans have vouchers but no place to cash them in, authorities said. Gale Holland, latimes.com, "Why L.A. County’s homelessness crisis has been decades in the making," 5 June 2019

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

16 Jun 2019

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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 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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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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