Thesaurus

severe

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of severe

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About severe

How does the adjective severe contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of severe are ascetic, austere, and stern. While all these words 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

When could ascetic be used to replace severe?

The words ascetic and severe are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline.

the ascetic life of the monks

When can austere be used instead of severe?

The synonyms austere and severe are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

Where would stern be a reasonable alternative to severe?

The words stern and severe can be used in similar contexts, but stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character.

stern arbiters of public morality

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about severe

Time Traveler for severe

Time Traveler

The first known use of severe was in 1548

See more words from the same year

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/severe. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on severe

Dictionary: Definition of severe

Nglish: Translation of severe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of severe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on severe

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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