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[sev-er-uh ns, sev-ruh ns] /ˈsɛv ər əns, ˈsɛv rəns/
the act of severing or the state of being severed.
a breaking off, as of a friendship.
Law. a division into parts, as of liabilities or provisions; removal of a part from the whole.
Origin of severance
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English severaunce < Anglo-French; see sever, -ance
Related forms
nonseverance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for severance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus threatened with severance, the tie between them—for it had become a kind of tie—no longer had impersonal quality.

    The Forsyte Saga, Complete John Galsworthy
  • Mr. severance was a man of many rare and sterling attractions.

  • While severance was in the offing I'd have stuck to you like a leech, because you're too good for him.

    Vision House C. N. Williamson
  • She no doubt felt the severance that was taking place and became very sad.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • He was rudely disillusioned as to the possibility of this severance.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
British Dictionary definitions for severance


the act of severing or state of being severed
a separation
(law) the division into separate parts of a joint estate, contract, etc
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 severance

early 15c., from Anglo-French, from Old French sevrance "separation, parting," from sevrer (see sever). Meaning "discharge from employment contract" is attested from 1941. Severance pay attested by 1942.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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