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severe

[suh-veer] /səˈvɪər/
adjective, severer, severest.
1.
harsh; unnecessarily extreme:
severe criticism; severe laws.
2.
serious or stern in manner or appearance:
a severe face.
3.
grave; critical:
a severe illness.
4.
rigidly restrained in style, taste, manner, etc.; simple, plain, or austere.
5.
causing discomfort or distress by extreme character or conditions, as weather, cold, or heat; unpleasantly violent, as rain or wind, or a blow or shock.
6.
difficult to endure, perform, fulfill, etc.:
a severe test of his powers.
7.
rigidly exact, accurate, or methodical:
severe standards.
Origin of severe
1540-1550
1540-50; < Latin sevērus, or back formation from severity
Related forms
severely, adverb
severeness, noun
oversevere, adjective
overseverely, adverb
oversevereness, noun
supersevere, adjective
superseverely, adverb
supersevereness, noun
unsevere, adjective
unseverely, adverb
unsevereness, noun
Synonyms
2. strict, hard. See stern1 . 4. unadorned. 7. demanding, exacting.
Antonyms
1. lenient. 2. gentle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for severe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We have been informed that the disaster had been most severe.

    The Forty-Five Guardsmen Alexandre Dumas
  • The blow was a bit too severe and the Egyptian fell down dead.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • He was in a perfect storm of passion, and threatened every one of the servants with severe punishment, to extort confession.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • In severe obedience to orders, therefore, he did not even now call.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • He was so softened, so penitent and earnest, that even the severe Mrs. Royden was inclined to forgive him.

    Father Brighthopes John Townsend Trowbridge
British Dictionary definitions for severe

severe

/sɪˈvɪə/
adjective
1.
rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; strict: a severe parent
2.
serious in appearance or manner; stern
3.
critical or dangerous: a severe illness
4.
causing misery or discomfort by its harshness: severe weather
5.
strictly restrained in appearance; austere: a severe way of dressing
6.
hard to endure, perform, or accomplish: a severe test
7.
rigidly precise or exact
Derived Forms
severely, adverb
severeness, severity (sɪˈvɛrɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin sevērus
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 severe
adj.

1540s, from Middle French severe (12c., Modern French sévère) or directly from Latin severus "serious, grave, strict, austere" (see severity). From 1660s with reference to styles or tastes; from 1725 of diseases.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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