sev·​er | \ˈse-vər \
severed; severing\ ˈsev-​riŋ , ˈse-​və-​ \

Definition of sever 

transitive verb

: to put or keep apart : divide especially : to remove (something, such as a part) by or as if by cutting

intransitive verb

: to become separated

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of sever in a Sentence

He severed the lowest tree limbs. His finger was severed in the accident. Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web

His decision to continue representing foreign entities also departs from standard practice for presidential attorneys, who in the past have generally sought to sever any ties that could create conflicts with their client in the White House., "Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump's attorney," 10 July 2018 The Stanley Cup champion revealed to reporters Wednesday that during Game 2 of the finals, part of his pinky finger was severed off. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Capitals player had part of finger sliced off, reattached during Stanley Cup Final," 14 June 2018 Judges ultimately decide if the child should be reunited with family or if parental rights should be severed and the child put up for adoption. The Republic |, "Understand the system | How Arizona's child-protective services are supposed to work," 13 Apr. 2018 There are also contorted dragons, along with legions of Oni towering over the battlefield, severed heads dangling from their belts. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Rising Sun—A cerebral board game of conquest, diplomacy, and betrayal," 10 Feb. 2018 These are all clones of the mother that may be severed and easily transplanted elsewhere. Maureen Gilmer, idahostatesman, "Sansevieria is a perfect house plant," 24 Jan. 2018 Now, with Patricio severing ties with Sporting, Nuno Espirito Santo will be able to sign his countryman on a free., "Sporting CP Goalkeeper Rui Patricio Set to Join Wolves for Free After Standing Firm in Contract Row," 8 June 2018 Recent media reports say Kelly's lawyer, publicist, and longtime assistant have all severed ties with the R&B singer. Brandon Griggs, CNN, "R. Kelly's reputation has long been tainted by sex crime allegations. Now, he finds his career under siege," 10 May 2018 Plans for a new $3 million sanctuary were unveiled in March, after which two major donors severed ties with the First Baptist Church, the Morning News reported. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "‘How much is left?’ Victims, donors question use of funds after Texas church massacre | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 14 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of sever

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sever

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

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Statistics for sever

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sever

The first known use of sever was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for sever



English Language Learners Definition of sever

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

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


sev·​er | \ˈse-vər \
severed; severing

Kids Definition of sever

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

sev·​er | \ˈse-vər \
severed; severing

Legal Definition of sever 

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

3a : 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

Other Words from sever

severance \ ˈse-​vrəns, -​və-​rens \ noun

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