noun, plural aus·ter·i·ties.

austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.
Usually austerities. ascetic practices: austerities of monastery life.
strict economy.

Origin of austerity

1300–50; Middle English austerite < Anglo-French, Old French austerite < Latin austēritās. See austere, -ity

Synonyms for austerity

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

Examples from the Web for austerity

Contemporary Examples of austerity

Historical Examples of austerity

  • As a foil to his austerity, therefore, she would be audaciously gay in his presence.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Sunday comes, and brings with it a day of general gloom and austerity.

  • The sternness of age and the austerity of censoriousness are now silent.


    William Godwin

  • They will require a little wine, to mellow the austerity of age, and make them amenable to the laws.



  • His laughter shocked the austerity of that same jack-pudding.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for austerity


noun plural -ties

the state or quality of being austere
(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
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 austerity

mid-14c., "sternness, harshness," from Old French austerite "harshness, cruelty" (14c.) and directly from Late Latin austeritatem (nominative austeritas), from austerus (see austere). Of severe self-discipline, from 1580s; hence "severe simplicity" (1875); applied during World War II to national policies limiting non-essentials as a wartime economy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper