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 One of the symptoms reported most frequently by people with severe depressive illness is lack of ability to imagine the future. Wired, "On Hope (in a Time of Hopelessness)," 27 Nov. 2019 But this particular strain of E. coli 0157:H7 is a type that can cause more severe illness, including bloody diarrhea and extreme vomiting. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "CDC Says 67 People Infected With E. coli After Eating Romaine Lettuce Sourced From One Region," 27 Nov. 2019 All of them were reported in the Lower Peninsula and most people sickened by vapes have been hospitalized and treated for severe respiratory illness. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "2nd Michigan man dies from vaping-related lung injury," 27 Nov. 2019 Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness, caused by flu viruses, that can cause mild to severe illness. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Flu season off to slow start, peak likely in December," 25 Nov. 2019 Approximately one in three persons who develop severe illness die. John Myers, Twin Cities, "Another deadly mosquito-borne disease is found in Minnesota grouse," 23 Nov. 2019 Recovery usually takes about a week, but the CDC says the strain can lead to longer and more severe illness. Amir Vera, CNN, "E. coli outbreak reported in romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, CDC and FDA say," 22 Nov. 2019 His defense lawyer Mark Ahlemeyer said Barbiyeru suffers from severe mental illness, which was the main driver of his actions. oregonlive, "Man who emailed threats of mass shooting to college that rejected him sentenced," 18 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile, cases of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping continue to grow. NBC News, "Public health groups fuming over Trump's inaction on vaping flavor ban," 18 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for severe

Time Traveler

The first known use of severe was in 1548

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Statistics for severe

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/severeness. Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for severe

severe

adjective
How to pronounce severe (audio)

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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