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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for austerely

Historical Examples of austerely

  • “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.


    P. G. Wodehouse

British Dictionary definitions for austerely



stern or severe in attitude or manneran austere schoolmaster
grave, sober, or seriousan austere expression
self-disciplined, abstemious, or ascetican austere life
severely simple or plainan austere design
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 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