View synonyms for austerity


[ aw-ster-i-tee ]


, plural aus·ter·i·ties.
  1. austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.

    Synonyms: strictness, harshness, rigor, asceticism

    Antonyms: leniency

  2. Usually austerities. ascetic practices:

    austerities of monastery life.

  3. harsh economic policies, as increased taxes or decreased funding for social services, usually adopted in response to government debt or deficits (often used attributively): The legislature tried to reduce the budget deficit with austerity measures that raised the retirement age and cut pension benefits.

    Economic growth slowed under austerity.

    The legislature tried to reduce the budget deficit with austerity measures that raised the retirement age and cut pension benefits.


/ ɒˈstɛrɪtɪ /


  1. the state or quality of being austere
  2. often plural an austere habit, practice, or act
    1. reduced availability of luxuries and consumer goods, esp when brought about by government policy
    2. ( as modifier )

      an austerity budget

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Word History and Origins

Origin of austerity1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English austerite , from Anglo-French, Old French austerite , from Latin austēritās; austere, -ity

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Synonym Study

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Example Sentences

Amid the economic crisis, with memories of austerity measures from past years still fresh, the nation voted to slash public spending on governance by chopping the size of its legislatures by a third.

From Ozy

This is a non-starter in the post-pandemic age of austerity.

Economic stability was promptly replaced by recession and austerity in financial capitals and small towns around the world.

From Fortune

Though DeJoy put some austerity measures on hold — since backstopped by four court orders — and called the timely delivery of election mail his “sacred” duty, suspicions persist.

Education leaders immediately compared it to the devastating austerity of the Great Recession.

Now cities are largely on their own, as austerity and gridlock grip Washington.

Our debates about federal budgets still revolve around degrees of imposed austerity.

Last weekend, demonstrators took to the streets of Italy's capital to protest against government-imposed austerity measures.

A big theme for the last several months has been the end of fiscal austerity.

Walmart is about to teach everybody a lesson in how austerity can affect the consumer economy—and quick.

It now became evident to him that both he and the Brethren had hitherto manifested insufficient austerity in life and doctrine.

Austerity banishes familiarity from family life and engenders constraint.

The extreme plainness of her dress lent an air of austerity to her face, and her features were proud and grave.

This proposal is, in our judgment, a bold attempt to get back the "Principles of 1834" in all their austerity.

She viewed life with a certain austerity, and in literature she had fortified herself against the shocks of time.


Related Words

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More About Austerity

What does austerity mean?

Austerity means sternness, severity, or a state of extreme self-discipline or minimalistic living.

Austerity is the noun form of the adjective austere, which most commonly means extremely stern or strict or without any frills or luxuries.

The word is often used in the context of a national economy in which services and access to certain goods have been scaled back by the government during times of economic crisis. This sense is especially seen in the phrase austerity measures.  

The term is sometimes used in its plural form to refer to ascetic practices, like living in a monastery—think of a monk who lives in a bedroom with only a metal cot and eats plain rice every day.

Example: The government has turned to austerity to help curb the rising debt.

Where does austerity come from?

The first records of the word austerity in English come from around the late 1300s. It ultimately derives from the Greek austērós, meaning “harsh, rough, bitter.”

Austerity involves living in harsh, rough, and severely simple conditions. Sometimes, it’s on purpose. The austerities of life in a monastery are typically intended to help those who live there focus on the spiritual aspect of life without being distracted by anything that’s considered frivolous.

In many cases, though, austerity is not by choice. People forced to live in austerity must get along in the most minimalistic conditions, without any luxuries and often without some things that other people considered necessities. Austerity measures implemented by governments often involve cutting everything from the budget that’s not absolutely essential, leaving citizens to live in extremely austere conditions.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of austerity?

What are some words that often get used in discussing austerity?


How is austerity used in real life?

The word austerity is often used to refer to strict economic conditions.



Try using austerity!

Which of the following words is MOST likely to be associated with austerity?

A. luxury
B. convenience
C. abundance
D. simplicity