severe


severe
severe, stern, austere, ascetic can all mean given to or characterized by strict discipline and firm restraint.
Severe is applicable to persons and their looks, acts, thoughts, and utterances or to things (as laws, penalties, judgments, and styles) for which persons are responsible. In all these applications it implies rigorous standards of what is just, right, ethical, beautiful, or acceptable and unsparing or exacting adherence to them; it not only excludes every hint of laxity or indulgence but often suggests a preference for what is hard, plain, or meager
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a severe teacher

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severe impartiality

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severe in dress

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these bleak and severe Sunday mornings, though they left me with a respect for the Bible, had the effect of antagonizing me against itEdmund Wilson

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Very often the word suggests harshness or even cruelty
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a severe penalty

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severe discipline

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severe criticism

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a severe test of his endurance

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It is then by extension referable also to things for which persons are not responsible but which similarly impose pain or acute discomfort
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a severe attack of lumbago

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I do not think that she anticipated anything so severe as arsenic on her black-berries— Shirley Jackson

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a severe winter

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Stern, though it often implies severity when applied to persons or their acts or words, stresses inflexibility or inexorability of temper; thus, a severe judge may appear kindly though dispassionately just, but a stern judge reveals no disposition to be mild or lenient; to be made of stern stuff is to have an unyielding will or an extraordinarily resolute character
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he wanted to bang on his desk, arise magisterially, like a good confessor, being purposeful and sternStyron

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In extended use stern is applied to what cannot be escaped or evaded
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stern necessity

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the stern compulsion of facts— Buchan

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or to what is harsh and forbidding in its appearance or in its external aspects
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the stern and rockbound land ... on which his lot was cast— Faulkner

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a marble bath that made cleanliness a luxury instead of one of the sternest of the virtues, as it seemed at home— Shaw

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Austere is chiefly applied to persons, their habits, their modes of life, the environments they create, or the works of art they produce; in these applications austere implies the absence of appealing qualities (as feeling, warmth, color, animation, and ornament) and therefore positively implies dispassionateness, coldness, reserve, or barrenness
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my common conversation I do acknowledge austere, my behavior full of rigor— Browne

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secretly, these austere tyrants seized with delight upon so estimable an excuse for censuring a member of the set they deprecated— Sackville-West

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Sometimes the word tends to add such connotations as restraint, self-denial, economy of means, and stark simplicity and becomes a term of praise rather than of depreciation
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the austere dignity and simplicity of their existence— Pater

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mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture— Russell

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a landscape lightly strewn with snow, and rendered graciously austere by long, converging lines of leafless poplars— Wylie

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Ascetic implies laborious and exacting spiritual training or discipline, self-denial, abstention from what is pleasurable, and even the seeking of what is painful or disagreeable
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strong-willed and ascetic, he discovered in discipline the chief end for which the children of Adam are created— Partington

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a people possessed of the epicurean rather than the ascetic ideal in morals— Brownell

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The idea of discipline, especially by abstention from what is pleasurable or easy or self-indulgent for the sake of spiritual or intellectual ends may be emphasized
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for science is ascetic. It is a discipline and a control of personal impulse that could arise only in a relatively mature civilization— Baker Brownell

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there was in him a real nobility, an even ascetic firmness and purity of character— Ellis

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Analogous words: exacting, oppressive, *onerous, burdensome: *rigid, rigorous, strict, stringent: *hard, difficult, arduous: harsh, rugged, uneven, *rough
Antonyms: tolerant: tender
Contrasted words: lenient, clement, *forbearing, merciful, indulgent: gentle, mild, *soft

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • sévère — [ sevɛr ] adj. • fin XIIe; lat. severus 1 ♦ (Personnes) Qui n admet pas qu on manque à la règle; prompt à punir ou à blâmer. ⇒ dur, exigeant, strict, fam. vache. Des parents sévères. Le juge s est montré très sévère. ⇒ impitoyable. « elle était… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Severe — Sévère (chanteuse) Sévère est une rappeuse française d origine congolaise, née le 10 février 1982 à Strasbourg. Sommaire 1 Son d la rue Meufia 2 Parcours 3 Notes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Severe — Se*vere , a. [Compar. {Severer}; superl. {Severest}.] [L. severus; perhaps akin to Gr. ??? awe, ??? revered, holy, solemn, Goth. swikns innocent, chaste: cf. F. s[ e]v[ e]re. Cf. {Asseverate}, {Persevere}.] 1. Serious in feeling or manner;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • severe — SEVERE. adj. de t. g. Rigide, qui exige une extreme regularité, & pardonne peu ou point. Un Prince severe. Juge severe. severe censeur. ce pere est trop severe envers ses enfans. Il se dit aussi des choses. Vertu severe. punition severe. il fit… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • severe — [sə vir′] adj. severer, severest [< MFr < OFr < L severus, prob. < se , apart (see SECEDE) + IE base * wer , (to be) friendly > OE wær, faith, pledge, bond (of friendship)] 1. harsh, strict, or highly critical, as in treatment;… …   English World dictionary

  • severe — I adjective acrimonious, afflictive, agonizing, astringent, austere, austerus, bearish, brutal, censorious, churlish, coercive, cold, condemnatory, critical, cruel, despotic, difficult, domineering, dour, drastic, durus, exacting, excruciating,… …   Law dictionary

  • Sévère — Ancien nom de baptême correspondant au latin Severus (= sérieux, sévère), popularisé par un empereur romain, puis par divers saints …   Noms de famille

  • severe — 1540s, from Fr. sévère, from L. severus (see SEVERITY (Cf. severity)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • severe — [adj1] uncompromising, stern astringent, austere, biting, caustic, close, cold, cruel, cutting, disapproving, dour, earnest, firm, flinty, forbidding, grave, grim, hard, hardnosed*, harsh, inconsiderate, inexorable, inflexible, iron handed,… …   New thesaurus

  • severe — ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of something bad, undesirable, or difficult) very great; intense. 2) strict or harsh. 3) very plain in style or appearance. DERIVATIVES severely adverb severity noun. ORIGIN Latin severus …   English terms dictionary


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