Definition of severe
1a : strict in judgment, discipline, or governmentb : 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-disciplineb : 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 wintersb : very painful or harmful a severe wound
7 : requiring great effort : arduous a severe test
8 : of a great degree severe depression
severityplay \sə-ˈver-ə-tē\ noun
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.
Recent Examples of severe from the Web
Severe pain is glue in the memory, and loosens its grip very slowly.
The three other women suffered severe and permanent injuries, and will also receive part of the settlement.
Coastal communities in my home state of Florida are already seeing a rise in sea levels, while drought, flooding, disease and famine are certain to become more severe as the effects of climate change take hold here and around the globe.
Most of the women — in their late 70s at the youngest — are suffering from severe dementia, but the reminders from bygone days trigger memories and skills once thought lost, and produce surprising levels of happiness and comfort.
Public anger has risen along with the skyrocketing prices for many essential medicines — insulin for diabetes, for example, and EpiPens for severe allergic reactions.
The Predators lost center Ryan Johansen to a severe thigh injury.
BA passengers were hit with severe delays in July and September 2016 because of problems with the airline's online check-in systems.
And on Monday, Memorial Day, the severe storm threat shifts southward.
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.
Origin and Etymology of severe
Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin severus
First Known Use: 1548See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of severe
SEVERE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of severe for English Language Learners
: very bad, serious, or unpleasant
: causing a lot of physical pain or suffering
: very harsh
SEVERE Defined for Kids
Definition of severe for Students
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up severe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).