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[aw-ster-i-tee] /ɔˈstɛr ɪ ti/
noun, plural austerities.
austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.
Usually, austerities. ascetic practices:
austerities of monastery life.
strict economy.
Origin of austerity
1300-50; Middle English austerite < Anglo-French, Old French austerite < Latin austēritās. See austere, -ity
1. harshness, strictness, asceticism, rigor. 2. See hardship.
1. leniency. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for austerity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had expected to see a man, reserved almost to the point of austerity.

  • As a foil to his austerity, therefore, she would be audaciously gay in his presence.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • There are continual jests about the contrast between this Ulsterman's austerity and the conviviality of Colonel Clancy.

  • The sternness of age and the austerity of censoriousness are now silent.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • His spirit grew austere, but in his austerity there was an inexpressible joy.

British Dictionary definitions for austerity


noun (pl) -ties
the state or quality of being austere
(often pl) an austere habit, practice, or act
  1. reduced availability of luxuries and consumer goods, esp when brought about by government policy
  2. (as modifier): an austerity budget
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 austerity

mid-14c., "sternness, harshness," from Old French austerite "harshness, cruelty" (14c.) and directly from Late Latin austeritatem (nominative austeritas), from austerus (see austere). Of severe self-discipline, from 1580s; hence "severe simplicity" (1875); applied during World War II to national policies limiting non-essentials as a wartime economy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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