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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The plant reopened on June 4 after the company committed to additional sanitizing and safety protocols, but shuttered again more than a week ago after severe weather caused damage to the plant. Zeke Miller, Chicago Tribune, 22 June 2022 Northeastern India and northern Bangladesh have been particularly badly hit by severe weather, which has prompted some of the worst flooding in the region in years and left some towns cut off. Swati Gupta And Esha Mitra, CNN, 20 June 2022 While the risks for children developing severe COVID is low, the vaccine can help protect them against getting and spreading the virus. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune, 18 June 2022 The family has had to avoid spending time indoors with his mother, who has lupus and is vulnerable to severe Covid. New York Times, 18 June 2022 Food producers, and particularly specialty crop growers, need protection from unforeseen events like severe weather or a bad harvest to continue farming, Morgan said. Cristina Larue, Arkansas Online, 18 June 2022 The storms may produce damaging straight-line winds, and the potential for severe weather is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 17 June 2022 Storm Prediction Center has northeast Alabama in Level 2 out of 5 (or slight) risk for severe weather today. Leigh Morgan, al, 17 June 2022 The pill was the first efficacious antiviral oral treatment approved by the FDA last December for anyone 12 years and older who is at a higher risk for developing severe Covid. Madeline Halpert, Forbes, 6 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

24 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/severe. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for severe

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

More from Merriam-Webster on severe

Nglish: Translation of severe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of severe for Arabic Speakers

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