verb (used with object)

to separate (a part) from the whole, as by cutting or the like.
to divide into parts, especially forcibly; cleave.
to break off or dissolve (ties, relations, etc.).
Law. to divide into parts; disunite (an estate, titles of a statute, etc.).
to distinguish; discriminate between.

verb (used without object)

to become separated from each other; become divided into parts.

Origin of sever

1300–50; Middle English severen < Middle French sev(e)rer to separate
Related formshalf-sev·ered, adjectiveun·sev·ered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sever

Contemporary Examples of sever

Historical Examples of sever

  • And do you think it will not cost me an effort to sever our friendship?

  • If you sever a number of these cords, you alter the entire drape of the curtain.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport

    Robert Neilson Stephens

  • Elizabeth I have put away––death could not sever us more effectually.

    A Singer from the Sea

    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

  • There must be continuity of this structure too, for to sever a nerve is to paralyze all beyond.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • I am here to say this to you: here and now I sever our betrothal!

    Pretty Madcap Dorothy

    Laura Jean Libbey

British Dictionary definitions for sever



to put or be put apart; separate
to divide or be divided into parts
(tr) to break off or dissolve (a tie, relationship, etc)

Word Origin for sever

C14 severen, from Old French severer, from Latin sēparāre to separate
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 sever

c.1300, from Anglo-French severer, Old French sevrer "to separate" (12c., later in French restricted to "to wean," i.e. "to separare from the mother"), from Vulgar Latin *seperare, from Latin separare "to separate" (see separate (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper