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Avoid these words. Seriously.


[aw-steer] /ɔˈstɪər/
severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising; strict; forbidding:
an austere teacher.
rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent:
the austere quality of life in the convent.
grave; sober; solemn; serious:
an austere manner.
without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe:
an austere life.
severely simple; without ornament:
austere writing.
lacking softness; hard:
an austere bed of straw.
rough to the taste; sour or harsh in flavor.
Origin of austere
1300-50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin austērus < Greek austērós harsh, rough, bitter
Related forms
austerely, adverb
austereness, noun
unaustere, adjective
unausterely, adverb
4. luxurious, comfortable, lush; sybaritic.
Synonym Study
4. Austere, bleak, spartan, stark all suggest lack of ornament or adornment and of a feeling of comfort or warmth. Austere usually implies a purposeful avoidance of luxury or ease: simple, stripped-down, austere surroundings. Bleak adds a sense of forbidding coldness, hopelessness, depression: a bleak, dreary, windswept plain. Spartan, somewhat more forceful than austere, implies stern discipline and rigorous, even harsh, avoidance of all that is not strictly functional: a life of Spartan simplicity. Stark shares with bleak a sense of grimness and desolation: the stark cliff face. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for austerely
Historical Examples
  • “I somehow had not thought of you, Miss Dumont, as so austerely inclined,” he said.

    The Crimson Tide Robert W. Chambers
  • "No one would be too young for that," said Ludlow, austerely, with his eyes on the sketch.

    The Coast of Bohemia William Dean Howells
  • “Is that the way you treat such a—an abominable——” began Miss Grey austerely.

    Sport Royal Anthony Hope
  • Mr. Baldwin very quickly and austerely replied, "I do, sir; I do."

  • “Thanks,” said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him.

    Mike P. G. Wodehouse
  • "I do not share your commiseration for that young man," said Mr. Faucitt austerely.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • Is not every word of it true—severely and austerely true,—but still true?

    Letters to the Clergy John Ruskin
  • "I'm afraid you've been rather impetuous," she said austerely.

    Rich Relatives Compton Mackenzie
  • I had stood over him once before, not quite so fiercely as now, but full as austerely.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
  • "And you must leave this place at once," said Mr Tempest, austerely.

    The Pagan's Cup Fergus Hume
British Dictionary definitions for austerely


stern or severe in attitude or manner: an austere schoolmaster
grave, sober, or serious: an austere expression
self-disciplined, abstemious, or ascetic: an austere life
severely simple or plain: an austere design
Derived Forms
austerely, adverb
austereness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French austère, from Latin austērus sour, from Greek austēros astringent; related to Greek hauein to dry
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 austerely



early 14c., from Old French austere (Modern French austère) and directly from Latin austerus "dry, harsh, sour, tart," from Greek austeros "bitter, harsh," especially "making the tongue dry" (originally used of fruits, wines), metaphorically "austere, harsh," from PIE *saus- "dry" (cf. Greek auos "dry," auein "to dry"). Use in English is figurative: "stern, severe, very simple." Related: Austerely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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