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 Play was suspended because of severe weather in the area around 4 p.m. Saturday, and rain began to fall not long afterward. Tim Reynolds, ajc, "For the 1st time, Japan is home to a leader of the Masters," 11 Apr. 2021 By Sunday, severe weather may continue across the northern and eastern U.S. with lingering showers and thunderstorms up and down the East Coast and near the Great Lakes. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Baseball-sized hail threatens Alabama, tornado reported in Mississippi as severe storms hit South," 10 Apr. 2021 The threat for severe weather is nearly over for Alabama as of Saturday morning. Leigh Morgan, al, "Severe weather threat nearly over for Alabama today," 10 Apr. 2021 More than 30 million people are on alert for severe weather in the next 24 hours from Texas to Georgia. Max Golembo, ABC News, "More than 30 million people on alert for severe weather," 9 Apr. 2021 That means the greatest, most widespread threat for severe weather will be overnight Friday. Jackson Dill And Monica Garrett, CNN, "Potential overnight tornadoes and destructive hail puts about 50 million people at risk Friday into Saturday," 8 Apr. 2021 The area is under slight risk for severe weather Thursday. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati weather: Storms expected Thursday, showers will continue through the weekend," 8 Apr. 2021 If the ingredients hold together, some severe weather is possible with the primary threat being large hail along with damaging winds. Dallas News, "Dry Thursday, then storms possible Friday," 8 Apr. 2021 An early barometer of the tech industry’s ongoing financial strength came Wednesday, as Samsung Electronics Co. forecast a 44% rise in operating profit despite its U.S. chip production getting wiped out for weeks due to severe weather in Texas. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, "Big Tech Companies Prosper Despite Chip Shortage," 7 Apr. 2021

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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/severe. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on severe

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