verb sev·er \ ˈse-vər \
|Updated on: 2 Aug 2018

Definition of sever

severed; severing play \ˈsev-riŋ, ˈse-və-\
: to put or keep apart : divide; especially : to remove (something, such as a part) by or as if by cutting
: to become separated

Examples of sever in a Sentence

  1. He severed the lowest tree limbs.

  2. His finger was severed in the accident.

  3. Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country.

Recent Examples of sever from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sever

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SEVER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of sever for English Language Learners

  • : to cut off (something) : to remove or separate (something) by cutting

  • : to end (a relationship, connection, etc.) completely

SEVER Defined for Kids


verb sev·er \ ˈse-vər \

Definition of sever for Students

severed; severing
: to cut off
  • … the sword … severed the tip of his tail.
  • —Brian Jacques, Redwall

Law Dictionary


transitive verb sev·er \ ˈse-vər \

legal Definition of sever

severed; severing
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
3 a : 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


play \ˈse-vrəns, -və-rens\ noun

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having an air of easy unconcern

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