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

There could be a few strong to even marginally severe storms, the weather service said. Leigh Morgan, al.com, "Soon-to-be Barry may avoid direct hit on Alabama, but coast will likely feel its effects," 10 July 2019 State officials have listed thunderstorm safety tips online, recommending that anyone outside immediately go indoors during severe storms. Adam Sennott, BostonGlobe.com, "Video shows bolt of lightning striking boat in South Boston," 7 July 2019 Homeowners, condo and renter’s insurance cover damage sustained from most perils, including tornado, hurricanes, severe storms, rain, wind and fires. Janna Herron, USA TODAY, "California earthquake insurance: What does home insurance cover after a disaster?," 4 July 2019 While a severe storm may make the choice for getting a new roof obvious, minor leaks and cracks can be harder to spot. Kelly Dawson, House Beautiful, "What Type of Roofing Material Is Right for Your Home?," 3 July 2019 But leading up to the festivities, isolated severe storms are possible on Wednesday with damaging winds and very heavy rainfall. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati weather: It will be a hot, humid and possibly stormy Fourth of July," 3 July 2019 But if strong winds or severe storms hit Louisville, Waterfront Park may be evacuated. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Light snow expected for Forecastle weekend... Just kidding, it's going to be hot," 2 July 2019 The metro Detroit area is looking the possibility of severe storms as temperatures soar into the 90s on Friday, according to the National Weather Service in White Lake. Dixita Limbachia., Detroit Free Press, "Hot, stormy weather rolling in metro Detroit ahead of dry weekend," 28 June 2019 Although the storms moving into McHenry were powerful, the weather service said the greater risk for severe storms was expected this evening. Liam Ford, chicagotribune.com, "Thunderstorms roll into Chicago area as stronger storms threaten later Friday," 28 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

14 Jul 2019

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 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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