adjective, se·ver·er, se·ver·est.

Origin of severe

1540–50; < Latin sevērus, or back formation from severity
Related formsse·vere·ly, adverbse·vere·ness, nouno·ver·se·vere, adjectiveo·ver·se·vere·ly, adverbo·ver·se·vere·ness, nounsu·per·se·vere, adjectivesu·per·se·vere·ly, adverbsu·per·se·vere·ness, nounun·se·vere, adjectiveun·se·vere·ly, adverbun·se·vere·ness, noun

Synonyms for severe

2. strict, hard. See stern1. 4. unadorned. 7. demanding, exacting.

Antonyms for severe

1. lenient. 2. gentle. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for severely

Contemporary Examples of severely

Historical Examples of severely

  • I will not punish your fault so severely as Alcibiades ventured to hope.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Mr. Disraeli was severely sarcastic at the expense of the government.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • It censured Mrs. McKee severely for having been, so to speak, and accessory after the fact.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "It is certainly unchristian," commented Mrs. Porter, severely.


    W. A. Fraser

  • The 24th Punjaub Infantry on the left were the most severely engaged.

British Dictionary definitions for severely



rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; stricta severe parent
serious in appearance or manner; stern
critical or dangerousa severe illness
causing misery or discomfort by its harshnesssevere weather
strictly restrained in appearance; austerea severe way of dressing
hard to endure, perform, or accomplisha severe test
rigidly precise or exact
Derived Formsseverely, adverbsevereness or severity (sɪˈvɛrɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for severe

C16: from Latin sevērus
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 severely

1540s, from severe + -ly (2). Colloquial sense of "excessively" attested by 1854.



1540s, from Middle French severe (12c., Modern French sévère) or directly from Latin severus "serious, grave, strict, austere" (see severity). From 1660s with reference to styles or tastes; from 1725 of diseases.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper