se·​ver·​i·​ty sə-ˈver-ə-tē How to pronounce severity (audio)
: the quality or state of being severe : the condition of being very bad, serious, unpleasant, or harsh
the severity of the climate
the severity of the punishment
Medication can help shorten the illness and lessen its severity.
To make all coastal residents more aware of the severity of the cyclone hazard, and to increase faith and trust in evacuation orders, the emergency personnel must educate them about the benefits of taking refuge in public shelters prior to an approaching cyclone.Bimal Kanti Paul
A dog, like a human, is prone to two broadly defined types of bone fracture—open and closed. Within each category, breaks of varying severity may occur.Tom Ewing

Examples of severity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The severity and manifestations of dyslexia can vary from person to person, but children with the learning disability benefit most from early help with explications of the sound structures underlying words. Sarah Carr, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2023 The prosecutors also urged jurors to consider the severity of Paul Pelosi’s injuries, pointing to enduring headaches and other health challenges caused by skull fractures that left him hospitalized for six days. Michael Finnegan, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 However, report authors also wrote that action to prevent additional heating of the planet will bring major benefits by lessening the severity of the changes. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Along the same lines, studies suggest that more people are being affected by pollen each year, with the length and severity of allergy seasons increasing due to climate change. Yael Maguire, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Identifying the four stages of COPD enables healthcare providers to track a person’s progress, identify the severity of the disease (at each stage) as well as optimize treatment for the condition. Sherry Christiansen Updated, Verywell Health, 5 Nov. 2023 Fire scientists advocate more deliberate burning at low-to-moderate severity to clear vegetation that makes forests susceptible to big fires. Brian Melley, Fortune, 26 Oct. 2023 The parents were taken to Good Samaritan University Hospital, and Joseph was later transported to another facility due to the severity of his injuries, the New York Daily News reported. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2023 Due to the severity of their child’s disability, some parents are unable to work outside the home. Erin Prater, Fortune Well, 4 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'severity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of severity was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near severity

Cite this Entry

“Severity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural severities
: the quality or state of being severe

More from Merriam-Webster on severity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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