[ sev-er-uh ns, sev-ruh ns ]
/ ˈsɛv ər əns, ˈsɛv rəns /


the act of severing or the state of being severed.
a breaking off, as of a friendship.
Law. a division into parts, as of liabilities or provisions; removal of a part from the whole.

Nearby words

  1. severable,
  2. several,
  3. severalfold,
  4. severally,
  5. severalty,
  6. severance pay,
  7. severance tax,
  8. severe,
  9. severe acute respiratory syndrome,
  10. severe combined immune deficiency

Origin of severance

1375–1425; late Middle English severaunce < Anglo-French; see sever, -ance

Related formsnon·sev·er·ance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for severance

British Dictionary definitions for severance


/ (ˈsɛvərəns) /


the act of severing or state of being severed
a separation
law the division into separate parts of a joint estate, contract, etc
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 severance



early 15c., from Anglo-French, from Old French sevrance "separation, parting," from sevrer (see sever). Meaning "discharge from employment contract" is attested from 1941. Severance pay attested by 1942.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper