aus·​tere | \ ȯ-ˈstir How to pronounce austere (audio) also -ˈster \

Essential Meaning of austere

1 : simple or plain : not fancy They choose austere furnishings for the office. He was known for his austere style of writing.
2 of a person : having a serious and unfriendly quality Her father was an austere [=stern, unapproachable] figure.
3 : having few pleasures : simple and harsh They lived an austere life in the country.

Full Definition of austere

1a : stern and cold in appearance or manner an austere Puritan
b : somber, grave an austere critic
2 : morally strict : ascetic
3 : markedly simple or unadorned an austere office an austere style of writing
4 : giving little or no scope for pleasure austere diets
5 of a wine : having the flavor of acid or tannin predominant over fruit flavors usually indicating a capacity for aging

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Other Words from austere

austerely adverb
austereness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for austere

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 austere in a Sentence

This is a national conceit that is the comprehensible result of the religious beliefs of the early New England colonists (Calvinist religious dissenters, moved by millenarian expectations and theocratic ideas), which convinced them that their austere settlements in the wilderness represented a new start in humanity's story. — William Pfaff, New York Review, 15 Feb. 2007 For many of us with no firsthand familiarity with Greece, it's easy to forget that its celebrated ruins are a distortion and that we behold its ancient culture in its bare-bones lineaments. The austere white buildings of the Acropolis were once painted and parti-colored structures. — Brad Leithauser, New York Times Book Review, 26 Mar. 2006 I cut off my long dark hair, put on the habit (and it was quite becoming, in an austere sort of way), wrapped a big rosary around my waist, threw the cloak over my shoulders and set out. — Albert E. Cowdrey, Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2005 Certain kinds of landscapes—volatile ocean environments, sculpturally seductive alpine peaks, austere polar regions—became infused with what philosopher Edmund Burke called "a sort of delightful horror." — James Balog, American Photo, May/June 2004 They choose austere furnishings for the office. He was known for his austere style of writing. They lived an austere life in the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web Vaccarello has created contrasts in the collection with clashing color and putting austere lines against curves, something that the house isn’t typically known for. Allyson Portee, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The pandemic has pitted establishment Republicans, who defer to public-health officials’ expertise, against hard-right libertarians who prize austere constitutionalism. Michael Ames, The New Yorker, 21 Dec. 2020 While Gibbs was busy reviving the scrappy spirit of Nineties boom-bap, Orville Peck was reaching back even further in pop history, singing majestically austere ballads with the stern charisma of Johnny Cash. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 27 Sep. 2021 And aesthetically, the austere designs are the order of the day. Jessica Matlin, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 Sep. 2021 Amassing ingredients for these rustic spirits is an austere endeavor. Mark Johanson, Bon Appétit, 23 Sep. 2021 Many flying Jeeps shuttling supplies to remote, austere bases will be better at avoiding detection than a lumbering, easily detected C-130 Hercules. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 21 Sep. 2021 Deathloop’s island is a strange mix of modernist architecture, Scottish stone castles—which will seem familiar to visitors of Dunwell from Arkane’s previous game Dishonored—and an austere, treeless landscape. Ewan Wilson, Wired, 15 Sep. 2021 During Taliban rule 20 years ago, morality police roamed the streets, implementing the group's austere interpretation of Islamic law -- with harsh restrictions on women, strictly enforced prayer times, and even bans on kite-flying and chess. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 9 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'austere.' 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 austere

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for austere

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin austerus, from Greek austēros harsh, severe; akin to Greek hauos dry — more at sere

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The first known use of austere was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Austere.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for austere


aus·​tere | \ ȯ-ˈstir How to pronounce austere (audio) \

Kids Definition of austere

1 : seeming or acting serious and unfriendly an austere family
2 : plain entry 1 sense 1 an austere room

Other Words from austere

austerely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on austere

Nglish: Translation of austere for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of austere for Arabic Speakers


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