- harshness, sternness, or rigor: Their lives were marked by severity.
- austere simplicity, as of style, manner, or taste: The severity of the decor was striking.
- intensity or sharpness, as of cold or pain.
- grievousness; hard or trying character or effect: The severity of his loss was finally becoming apparent.
- rigid exactness or accuracy.
- an instance of strict or severe behavior, punishment, etc.
Origin of severity
Examples from the Web for severity
Within these forms, the severity of depression can vary over time.Robin Williams’ Deadly Depression
Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD, Tej Azad
August 12, 2014
We did so because we understood the severity of those threats.Why You Should Blame Iran For The Gaza Conflict
July 26, 2014
McDonald attempts to impart on him the severity of the consequences he will face should he find himself back in this courtroom.Private Prisons Rule With Little Oversight on America’s Border
June 20, 2014
The scope—and severity—of their alleged crimes is astounding, as well.The FBI Declares War on L.A.’s Crips
June 18, 2014
Longtime Quds Force chief Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani is reportedly in Baghdad, which indicates the severity of the crisis.Iran Is the Biggest Loser in Iraq
June 15, 2014
She'll drive him to me again; but oh, the shame of taking him so, given to me by her severity!The Bacillus of Beauty
The severity of this Winter caused great difficulties in Kentucke.The Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boone
"You are trying to evade me, Mr. Hewson," she said, with a severity he found charming.Questionable Shapes
William Dean Howells
But again provoking a severity from me which she could not bear, and calling me names!Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)
Bred in coldness and severity, this had rescued him to have a warm and sympathetic heart.Little Dorrit
Word Origin and History for severity
late 15c., "austerity or strictness of life," from Middle French severite, from Latin severitas "seriousness, strictness, sternness," from severus "stern, strict, serious," of uncertain origin. Possibly from PIE root *segh- "to have, hold" (see scheme (n.)), or possibly from *se vero "without kindness," from se "without" (see secret) + *vero "kindness," neuter ablative of verus "true" (see very). Meaning "strictness in dealing with others" is recorded from 1520s.