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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for severity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She'll drive him to me again; but oh, the shame of taking him so, given to me by her severity!

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • The severity of this Winter caused great difficulties in Kentucke.

  • "You are trying to evade me, Mr. Hewson," she said, with a severity he found charming.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • But again provoking a severity from me which she could not bear, and calling me names!

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Bred in coldness and severity, this had rescued him to have a warm and sympathetic heart.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
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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