sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing\ ˈsev-​riŋ How to pronounce severing (audio) , ˈse-​və-​ \

Definition of sever

transitive verb

: to put or keep apart : divide especially : to remove (something, such as a part) by or as if by cutting

intransitive verb

: to become separated

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for sever

separate, part, divide, sever, sunder, divorce mean to become or cause to become disunited or disjointed. separate may imply any of several causes such as dispersion, removal of one from others, or presence of an intervening thing. separated her personal life from her career part implies the separating of things or persons in close union or association. vowed never to part divide implies separating into pieces or sections by cutting or breaking. civil war divided the nation sever implies violence especially in the removal of a part or member. a severed limb sunder suggests violent rending or wrenching apart. a city sundered by racial conflict divorce implies separating two things that commonly interact and belong together. cannot divorce scientific research from moral responsibility

Examples of sever in a Sentence

He severed the lowest tree limbs. His finger was severed in the accident. Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The same thing happens with yaupon hollies and even crape myrtles when roots are severed. Neil Sperry,, "Neil Sperry: If you see this growth up in a tree, should you worry?," 5 Mar. 2020 This year, however, that long tail was severed by the Macau government, which ordered cinemas and theaters to close in January and prohibited large gatherings, such as banquets, to contain the spread of the flu. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Coronavirus prompts the world’s gambling capital to do the unthinkable: close its casinos," 4 Feb. 2020 Mikheyev has wrist surgery Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Ilya Mikheyev had surgery to repair an artery and wrist tendons that were severed by a skate during a game against the Devils on Friday night., "Serena Williams," 29 Dec. 2019 The second step is a follow-up program that ensures the connection established with the in-house program is never severed. James Burky, The Denver Post, "Denver’s Sacred Heart House fosters success for women facing homelessness," 15 Dec. 2019 The police report said 75% of Carter’s arm was severed. Andrew Boryga,, "Alcohol was on boat that severed diver’s arm, police say," 3 Dec. 2019 One dog finished its mission after its jaw was nearly severed by a bullet. Alex Horton,, "The dog who helped kill Baghdadi met Trump. But Conan is just the latest canine war hero.," 26 Nov. 2019 Built in the mid-1930s during the height of the Depression as one of America’s first public housing complexes, Lakeview was severed from the rest of Ohio City to the south in the early 1940s by the West Shoreway, edged with giant retaining walls. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Lakeview Terrace children brighten 'gray’ surroundings with help of L.L. Bean," 25 Oct. 2019 His vertebral artery was severed; police deemed the attack a possible hate crime. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "American Dreams in “The Rose Tattoo” and “Soft Power”," 21 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sever.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sever

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sever

Middle English, from Anglo-French severer, from Latin separare — more at separate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sever

Time Traveler for sever

Time Traveler

The first known use of sever was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sever

Last Updated

28 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sever


How to pronounce sever (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sever

: to cut off (something) : to remove or separate (something) by cutting
: to end (a relationship, connection, etc.) completely


sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing

Kids Definition of sever

: to cut off … the sword … severed the tip of his tail.— Brian Jacques, Redwall
sev·​er | \ ˈse-vər How to pronounce sever (audio) \
severed; severing

Legal Definition of sever

1 : to end (a joint tenancy) by ending one or all of the unities of time, title, possession, or interest (as by conveying one tenant's interest to another party)
2 : to separate (as a contract) into different parts (as independent obligations) in order to treat each separately
3a : to try (criminal offenses or defendants) separately in order to avoid prejudice
b : to split (a criminal trial) into multiple trials in order to avoid prejudice
c : to try (civil claims or issues pleaded in the same case) separately

Other Words from sever

severance \ ˈse-​vrəns, -​və-​rens How to pronounce severance (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sever

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sever

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sever

Spanish Central: Translation of sever

Nglish: Translation of sever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sever for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sever

What made you want to look up sever? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!