stern

adjective
\ˈstərn \

Definition of stern 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : 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

stern

noun

Definition of stern (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : the rear end of a boat

2 : a hinder or rear part : the last or latter part

Stern

biographical name (1)
\ˈstərn \

Definition of Stern (Entry 3 of 4)

Isaac 1920–2001 American (Russian-born) violinist

Stern

biographical name (2)

Definition of Stern (Entry 4 of 4)

Otto 1888–1969 American (German-born) physicist

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Other Words from stern

Adjective

sternly adverb
sternness \ˈstərn-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for stern

Synonyms: Adjective

austere, dour, fierce, flinty, forbidding, grim, gruff, intimidating, lowering (also louring), rough, rugged, severe, stark, steely, ungentle

Antonyms: Adjective

benign, benignant, gentle, mild, tender

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Choose the Right Synonym for stern

Adjective

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 stern in a Sentence

Adjective

He gave me a stern look. the army post's stern commander always had the utmost respect of those who served under him

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rather, the report examines the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, offering a stern rebuke for the behavior of some Bureau officials, including then-director James Comey and agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. CBS News, "Trump makes misleading claims about Crimea, FBI, North Korea," 15 June 2018 Also, liberals visualized a God who looked more loving and friendly, whereas conservatives saw a stern daddy. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "Study Finds That Americans Think God Looks Like This Guy," 12 June 2018 The president remained stern faced throughout, even when waving to clapping supporters. New York Times, "Erdogan Begins New Term and Names His Son-in-Law Finance Minister," 9 July 2018 Wade says, in the kind of caring yet stern tone an older mentor would use when talking to a younger person that is unaware of how challenging the task before them really is. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "Chicago Activist Rides Progressive Wave in Mayor's Race," 5 July 2018 The supporting players are even better; the veteran Barry infuses his stern but loving character with genuine gravitas, Beach is stolid as the parole officer who treats his ex-cons fairly, and Kay is a hoot as Sam's reluctant accomplice. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'No Postage Necessary': Film Review," 4 July 2018 Neymar broke through Mexico's stern resistance by setting up the opener when his back-heel released Willian. Rob Harris, Houston Chronicle, "Neymar leads Brazil past Mexico, into World Cup quarterfinals," 2 July 2018 In addition, Joe was known as the stern patriarch who was physically and emotionally abusive. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Joe Jackson, Father to Michael and Janet, Dies of Pancreatic Cancer at 89 as Family Pays Tribute," 27 June 2018 The bow of our raft dropped over the waterfall and our stern quickly followed. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Whitewater rafting on the Wolf River is a wild thrill," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sitting in folding chairs near the stern, his wife, Nina, and one of their daughters, Mary, peered at the water, looking for the slightest blip in the net — a sign that a fish had been snarled. Author: John Eligon, Anchorage Daily News, "A Supreme Court victory for a tribe that's lost its salmon," 12 June 2018 Ed shouted from the stern: Jason, you better holler for somebody. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 Sitting in folding chairs near the stern, his wife, Nina, and one of their daughters, Mary, peered at the water, looking for the slightest blip in the net — a sign that a fish had been snarled. Author: John Eligon, Anchorage Daily News, "A Supreme Court victory for a tribe that's lost its salmon," 12 June 2018 Deep-frozen Jake Gyllenhaal followed by Shailene Woodley on the half-shell, floating across the South Pacific in a dismasted schooner with Sam Claflin languishing in the stern. Aaron Kandell, New York Times, "Review: Shailene Woodley Braves the Elements in ‘Adrift’," 31 May 2018 Sitting in folding chairs near the stern, his wife, Nina, and one of their daughters, Mary, peered at the water, looking for the slightest blip in the net — a sign that a fish had been snarled. Author: John Eligon, Anchorage Daily News, "A Supreme Court victory for a tribe that's lost its salmon," 12 June 2018 Sitting in folding chairs near the stern, his wife, Nina, and one of their daughters, Mary, peered at the water, looking for the slightest blip in the net — a sign that a fish had been snarled. Author: John Eligon, Anchorage Daily News, "A Supreme Court victory for a tribe that's lost its salmon," 12 June 2018 Sitting in folding chairs near the stern, his wife, Nina, and one of their daughters, Mary, peered at the water, looking for the slightest blip in the net — a sign that a fish had been snarled. John Eligon, New York Times, "‘This Ruling Gives Us Hope’: Supreme Court Sides With Tribe in Salmon Case," 11 June 2018 The researchers confirmed the identity of the vessel through the configuration of the ship’s guns—and the fact that the ship’s name still visible on the stern. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Navy Cruiser Missing Since 1942 Rediscovered in the Pacific," 20 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of stern

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stern

Adjective

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

Noun

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

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Phrases Related to stern

be made of sterner/tougher stuff

Statistics for stern

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stern

The first known use of stern was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for stern

stern

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of stern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very serious especially in an unfriendly way

: expressing strong disapproval or criticism

: not likely to change or become weaker

stern

noun

English Language Learners Definition of stern (Entry 2 of 2)

: the back part of a boat or ship

stern

adjective
\ˈstərn \
sterner; sternest

Kids Definition of stern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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.

Other Words from stern

sternly adverb speak sternly

stern

noun

Kids Definition of stern (Entry 2 of 2)

: the rear end of a boat

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Comments on stern

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