harsh; unnecessarily extreme: severe criticism; severe laws.
serious or stern in manner or appearance: a severe face.
threatening a seriously bad outcome or involving serious issues; grave: a severe illness.
rigidly restrained in style, taste, manner, etc.; simple, plain, or austere.
causing discomfort or distress by extreme character or conditions, as weather, cold, or heat; unpleasantly violent, as rain or wind, or a blow or shock.
difficult to endure, perform, fulfill, etc.: a severe test of his powers.
rigidly exact, accurate, or methodical: severe standards.
- se·vere·ly, adverb
- se·vere·ness, noun
- o·ver·se·vere, adjective
- o·ver·se·vere·ness, noun
- su·per·se·vere, adjective
- su·per·se·vere·ness, noun
- un·se·vere, adjective
- un·se·vere·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use severe in a sentence
He inculcates his students in political economy of the severest "virtue of selfishness" type.
Any country that gives him refuge must be made to disgorge him, or else pay the severest price in sanctions.
The Marshal, in his Memoirs, asserts that this short campaign was the severest strain he ever underwent.Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison
The severest test of good breeding in a lady, is in the position of hostess, receiving dinner guests.The Ladies' Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness | Florence Hartley
He was at many of the severest battles of the war, and throughout the entire campaign rendered no little service to his country.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology | Joel Munsell
Who has not copied the Parthenon as the severest in its proportions for public buildings for civic purposes?Beacon Lights of History, Volume I | John Lord
The words of Charles Townsend were insulting to the colonists to the last degree, and were open to the severest rebuke.The Loyalists of America and Their Times, Vol. 1 of 2 | Egerton Ryerson
British Dictionary definitions for severe
rigorous or harsh in the treatment of others; strict: a severe parent
serious in appearance or manner; stern
critical or dangerous: a severe illness
causing misery or discomfort by its harshness: severe weather
strictly restrained in appearance; austere: a severe way of dressing
hard to endure, perform, or accomplish: a severe test
rigidly precise or exact
- severely, adverb
- severeness or severity (sɪˈvɛrɪtɪ), noun
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