as in serious
not joking or playful in mood or manner the judge maintained a severe expression throughout the trial

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms


Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near severe

Cite this Entry

“Severe.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

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