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severe

[suh-veer]
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adjective, se·ver·er, se·ver·est.
  1. harsh; unnecessarily extreme: severe criticism; severe laws.
  2. serious or stern in manner or appearance: a severe face.
  3. grave; critical: a severe illness.
  4. rigidly restrained in style, taste, manner, etc.; simple, plain, or austere.
  5. 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.
  6. difficult to endure, perform, fulfill, etc.: a severe test of his powers.
  7. rigidly exact, accurate, or methodical: severe standards.

Origin of severe

1540–50; < Latin sevērus, or back formation from severity
Related formsse·vere·ly, adverbse·vere·ness, nouno·ver·se·vere, adjectiveo·ver·se·vere·ly, adverbo·ver·se·vere·ness, nounsu·per·se·vere, adjectivesu·per·se·vere·ly, adverbsu·per·se·vere·ness, nounun·se·vere, adjectiveun·se·vere·ly, adverbun·se·vere·ness, noun

Synonyms

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2. strict, hard. See stern1. 4. unadorned. 7. demanding, exacting.

Antonyms

1. lenient. 2. gentle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for severest

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It received the praise of Gifford, the severest of English critics.

    Biographical Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It was the fiery ordeal that summons human character to the severest trial.

    Imogen

    William Godwin

  • The severest of the masters, with all his sarcasm, was simply nothing to him.

    The Coast of Bohemia

    William Dean Howells

  • This he said in the severest tone which he knew how to assume.

    Kept in the Dark

    Anthony Trollope

  • The night of the 11th and 12th of November was one of the severest of that terrible winter.


British Dictionary definitions for severest

severe

adjective
  1. rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; stricta severe parent
  2. serious in appearance or manner; stern
  3. critical or dangerousa severe illness
  4. causing misery or discomfort by its harshnesssevere weather
  5. strictly restrained in appearance; austerea severe way of dressing
  6. hard to endure, perform, or accomplisha severe test
  7. rigidly precise or exact
Derived Formsseverely, adverbsevereness or 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

Word Origin and History for severest

severe

adj.

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