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See more synonyms for austere on Thesaurus.com
  1. severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising; strict; forbidding: an austere teacher.
  2. rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent: the austere quality of life in the convent.
  3. grave; sober; solemn; serious: an austere manner.
  4. without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe: an austere life.
  5. severely simple; without ornament: austere writing.
  6. lacking softness; hard: an austere bed of straw.
  7. rough to the taste; sour or harsh in flavor.
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Origin of austere

1300–50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin austērus < Greek austērós harsh, rough, bitter
Related formsaus·tere·ly, adverbaus·tere·ness, nounun·aus·tere, adjectiveun·aus·tere·ly, adverb

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.

Antonyms for austere

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for austere

stringent, somber, forbidding, rigid, exacting, sober, formal, subdued, rustic, unadorned, stark, bleak, ascetic, astringent, cold, earnest, grave, grim, hard, harsh

Examples from the Web for austere

Contemporary Examples of austere

Historical Examples of austere

British Dictionary definitions for austere


  1. stern or severe in attitude or manneran austere schoolmaster
  2. grave, sober, or seriousan austere expression
  3. self-disciplined, abstemious, or ascetican austere life
  4. severely simple or plainan austere design
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Derived Formsausterely, adverbaustereness, noun

Word Origin for austere

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

Word Origin and History for austere


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper