9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[suh-veer] /səˈvɪər/
adjective, severer, severest.
harsh; unnecessarily extreme:
severe criticism; severe laws.
serious or stern in manner or appearance:
a severe face.
grave; critical:
a severe illness.
rigidly restrained in style, taste, manner, etc.; simple, plain, or austere.
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.
difficult to endure, perform, fulfill, etc.:
a severe test of his powers.
rigidly exact, accurate, or methodical:
severe standards.
Origin of severe
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
2. strict, hard. See stern1 . 4. unadorned. 7. demanding, exacting.
1. lenient. 2. gentle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for severe
  • In patients who have survived severe brain damage, judging the level of actual awareness has proved a difficult process.
  • They're not beating on the animals, and if they exhibit any signs of severe distress, they're not made to suffer.
  • But in the middle of a severe recession steep spending cuts and tax increases can be disastrous.
  • They are arranged in a rectangle with severe, angled corners.
  • In severe cases of lateral curvature of the vertebral column the thorax becomes much distorted.
  • University leaders have argued that the fee increases are necessary to compensate for severe cuts in state support.
  • Reject and encourage resubmission is essentially a more severe version of revise and resubmit.
  • But right at the point when opportunity is offered, it is being threatened by severe budget cuts in education and social services.
  • Academia will impose severe restrictions on your life options, as discussed elsewhere on these pages.
  • severe winter makes my skin literally leave my body.
British Dictionary definitions for severe


rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; strict: a severe parent
serious in appearance or manner; stern
critical or dangerous: a severe illness
causing misery or discomfort by its harshness: severe weather
strictly restrained in appearance; austere: a severe way of dressing
hard to endure, perform, or accomplish: a severe test
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

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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