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

While the typical hurricane passes through a larger geographical area than a wildfire, which might explain some of the disparity in coverage, the human impact can sometimes be just as severe with wildfires. Rani Molla, Recode, "Recent East Coast hurricanes have gotten more media coverage than California wildfires," 21 Nov. 2018 The spillover effects on this population are severe. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Senior housing: Older Americans face affordability, accessibility challenges," 14 Nov. 2018 Due to our ability to prescribe and our medical background, psychiatrists often see people with more severe mental illness (typically therapy alone is a first step for many illnesses and medication is considered as a next step if needed). SELF, "9 Awkward Questions You Probably Want to Ask Your New Therapist," 31 Oct. 2018 The spate of cases in 2014 coincided with a national outbreak of enterovirus D68, a severe respiratory illness. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, "Cases of Rare Neurological Condition Rise in U.S.," 16 Oct. 2018 In fact, the National Institute of Mental Illness shows 20% of young people ages 13 to 18 suffer from severe mental illness. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "12 Celebrities Who Talk About Mental Health," 10 Oct. 2018 Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the WellChild awards, a reception honoring young people suffering from severe illness and those who work to make their lives better. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton's Maternity Leave for Prince Louis Will Reportedly End in October," 4 Sep. 2018 Among the problems that plagued the movie were Elizabeth Taylor’s severe illness and the decision to move filming of the epically long motion picture to Rome’s Cinecitta Studios. 18. Charles Stockdale And John Harrington, USA TODAY, "From 'Transformers' to 'Avatar,' these are the 50 most expensive movies ever made," 6 July 2018 In some individuals, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Highland Park area mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus," 3 July 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

15 Dec 2018

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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