- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
2. strict, hard. See stern1. 4. unadorned. 7. demanding, exacting.
1. lenient. 2. gentle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for severeness
McClellan came up immediately, and, though I was fairly worn out with the severeness of the ride, we sat up till one oclock.The Life of Isaac Ingalls Stevens, Volume I (of 2)
- rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; stricta severe parent
- serious in appearance or manner; stern
- critical or dangerousa severe illness
- causing misery or discomfort by its harshnesssevere weather
- strictly restrained in appearance; austerea severe way of dressing
- hard to endure, perform, or accomplisha severe test
- rigidly precise or exact
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
Word Origin and History for severeness
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