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[suh-ver-i-tee] /səˈvɛr ɪ ti/
noun, plural severities.
harshness, sternness, or rigor:
Their lives were marked by severity.
austere simplicity, as of style, manner, or taste:
The severity of the decor was striking.
intensity or sharpness, as of cold or pain.
grievousness; hard or trying character or effect:
The severity of his loss was finally becoming apparent.
rigid exactness or accuracy.
an instance of strict or severe behavior, punishment, etc.
Origin of severity
1475-85; < Latin sevēritās, equivalent to sevēr(us) severe + -itās -ity
Related forms
nonseverity, noun, plural nonseverities.
overseverity, noun
superseverity, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for severity
  • But the severity of cellulite has long been in the eye of the beholder.
  • The first versions may simply reduce the severity of infections.
  • Reactor design, wind patterns, communication and other factors can cause differences in the severity of nuclear accidents.
  • The severity of that earthquake depends on how far and how widely each plate slips.
  • The difference in severity of a natural disaster does not always lie in the severity of the natural event.
  • No one with any scientific sense now disagrees about the severity of the climate crisis.
  • The severity of these conditions ranges from mild to severe.
  • People on campus had been aware of the financial problems but not of their severity.
  • As much as the scale of the crackdown, its severity is raising eyebrows.
  • Changes to water systems may increase the frequency and severity of destructive floods.
Word Origin and History for severity

late 15c., "austerity or strictness of life," from Middle French severite, from Latin severitas "seriousness, strictness, sternness," from severus "stern, strict, serious," of uncertain origin. Possibly from PIE root *segh- "to have, hold" (see scheme (n.)), or possibly from *se vero "without kindness," from se "without" (see secret) + *vero "kindness," neuter ablative of verus "true" (see very). Meaning "strictness in dealing with others" is recorded from 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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