se·​ver·​i·​ty | \ sə-ˈver-ə-tē How to pronounce severity (audio) \

Definition of severity

: 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

First Known Use of severity

1530, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about severity

Statistics for severity

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for severity

The first known use of severity was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for severity


se·​ver·​i·​ty | \ sə-ˈver-ə-tē\

Kids Definition of severity

: the quality or state of being severe They're determining the severity of the damage.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on severity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for severity

Spanish Central: Translation of severity

Nglish: Translation of severity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of severity for Arabic Speakers

Comments on severity

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


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!