1

stern

adjective \ ˈstərn \

Definition of stern

1 a :having a definite hardness or severity of nature or manner :austere
b :expressive of severe displeasure :harsh
2 :forbidding or gloomy in appearance
3 :inexorable
  • stern necessity
4 :sturdy, stout
  • a stern resolve

sternly

adverb

sternness

play \ˈstərn-nəs\ noun

Examples of stern in a Sentence

  1. He gave me a stern look.

  2. the army post's stern commander always had the utmost respect of those who served under him

Recent Examples of stern from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of stern

Middle English sterne, from Old English styrne; akin to Old English starian to stare — more at stare

Synonym Discussion of stern

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

2

stern

noun

Definition of stern

1 :the rear end of a boat
2 :a hinder or rear part :the last or latter part

Recent Examples of stern from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of stern

Middle English, rudder, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse stjōrn steering, rudder; akin to Old English stīeran to steer — more at steer

Other Nautical Terms


Stern

biographical name \ ˈstərn \

Definition of Stern

Isaac 1920–2001 American (Russian-born) violinist

Stern

biographical name

Definition of Stern

Otto 1888–1969 American (German-born) physicist


STERN Defined for English Language Learners

stern

adjective

Definition of stern for English Language Learners

  • : very serious especially in an unfriendly way

  • : expressing strong disapproval or criticism

  • : not likely to change or become weaker


stern

noun

Definition of stern for English Language Learners

  • : the back part of a boat or ship


STERN Defined for Kids

1

stern

adjective \ ˈstərn \

Definition of stern for Students

sterner; sternest
1 :hard and severe in nature or manner :very strict and serious
  • a stern judge
  • a stern warning
2 :showing severe displeasure or disapproval
  • The elder's stern expression softened.
  • —Brian Jacques, Redwall
3 :firm and not changeable
  • She showed stern determination to succeed.

sternly

adverb
  • speak sternly

2

stern

noun

Definition of stern for Students

:the rear end of a boat


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