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[sev-er] /ˈsɛv ər/
verb (used with object)
to separate (a part) from the whole, as by cutting or the like.
to divide into parts, especially forcibly; cleave.
to break off or dissolve (ties, relations, etc.).
Law. to divide into parts; disunite (an estate, titles of a statute, etc.).
to distinguish; discriminate between.
verb (used without object)
to become separated from each other; become divided into parts.
Origin of sever
1300-50; Middle English severen < Middle French sev(e)rer to separate
Related forms
half-severed, adjective
unsevered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sever
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It needs immense courage to sever a marriage if you have time to think what you are doing.

    Women's Wild Oats C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • If you sever a number of these cords, you alter the entire drape of the curtain.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport Robert Neilson Stephens
  • These elements will continue to increase in volume and power, till they sever a union offensive to God and oppressive to man.

  • Elizabeth I have put away––death could not sever us more effectually.

    A Singer from the Sea Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • It is in fact rather the lower gorges than the crests of the hills which sever the different districts.

    Italian Alps Douglas William Freshfield
British Dictionary definitions for sever


to put or be put apart; separate
to divide or be divided into parts
(transitive) to break off or dissolve (a tie, relationship, etc)
Word Origin
C14 severen, from Old French severer, from Latin sēparāre to separate
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 sever

c.1300, from Anglo-French severer, Old French sevrer "to separate" (12c., later in French restricted to "to wean," i.e. "to separare from the mother"), from Vulgar Latin *seperare, from Latin separare "to separate" (see separate (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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