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[aw-steer] /ɔˈstɪər/
severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising; strict; forbidding:
an austere teacher.
rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent:
the austere quality of life in the convent.
grave; sober; solemn; serious:
an austere manner.
without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe:
an austere life.
severely simple; without ornament:
austere writing.
lacking softness; hard:
an austere bed of straw.
rough to the taste; sour or harsh in flavor.
Origin of austere
1300-50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin austērus < Greek austērós harsh, rough, bitter
Related forms
austerely, adverb
austereness, noun
unaustere, adjective
unausterely, adverb
4. Austere, bleak, spartan, stark all suggest lack of ornament or adornment and of a feeling of comfort or warmth. Austere usually implies a purposeful avoidance of luxury or ease: simple, stripped-down, austere surroundings. Bleak adds a sense of forbidding coldness, hopelessness, depression: a bleak, dreary, windswept plain. Spartan, somewhat more forceful than austere, implies stern discipline and rigorous, even harsh, avoidance of all that is not strictly functional: a life of Spartan simplicity. Stark shares with bleak a sense of grimness and desolation: the stark cliff face.
4. luxurious, comfortable, lush; sybaritic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for austerely
Historical Examples
  • They live in sacerdotal isolation, austerely aloof from the populace, like a colony of monks.

    Alone Norman Douglas
  • “Is that the way you treat such a—an abominable——” began Miss Grey austerely.

    Sport Royal Anthony Hope
  • "I do not share your commiseration for that young man," said Mr. Faucitt austerely.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • “Thanks,” said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him.

    Mike P. G. Wodehouse
  • The Chaplain-General received us, if not coldly, at least austerely.

    The Great War As I Saw It Frederick George Scott
  • "And you must leave this place at once," said Mr Tempest, austerely.

    The Pagan's Cup Fergus Hume
  • If we resort to the earlier authorities, not excepting Grotius himself, we find these rights stated most austerely.

  • Health, it is austerely added, is more important than fashion!

  • They went into the dim, white room where swathed presences stood as if austerely welcoming them.

    Tante Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • Portal did not answer at once, and Carson turned on him austerely and keenly.

    Poppy Cynthia Stockley
British Dictionary definitions for austerely


stern or severe in attitude or manner: an austere schoolmaster
grave, sober, or serious: an austere expression
self-disciplined, abstemious, or ascetic: an austere life
severely simple or plain: an austere design
Derived Forms
austerely, adverb
austereness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French austère, from Latin austērus sour, from Greek austēros astringent; related to Greek hauein to dry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for austerely



early 14c., from Old French austere (Modern French austère) and directly from Latin austerus "dry, harsh, sour, tart," from Greek austeros "bitter, harsh," especially "making the tongue dry" (originally used of fruits, wines), metaphorically "austere, harsh," from PIE *saus- "dry" (cf. Greek auos "dry," auein "to dry"). Use in English is figurative: "stern, severe, very simple." Related: Austerely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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