See more synonyms for severity on
noun, plural se·ver·i·ties.
  1. harshness, sternness, or rigor: Their lives were marked by severity.
  2. austere simplicity, as of style, manner, or taste: The severity of the decor was striking.
  3. intensity or sharpness, as of cold or pain.
  4. grievousness; hard or trying character or effect: The severity of his loss was finally becoming apparent.
  5. rigid exactness or accuracy.
  6. an instance of strict or severe behavior, punishment, etc.

Origin of severity

1475–85; < Latin sevēritās, equivalent to sevēr(us) severe + -itās -ity
Related formsnon·se·ver·i·ty, noun, plural non·se·ver·i·ties.o·ver·se·ver·i·ty, nounsu·per·se·ver·i·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for severity

Contemporary Examples of severity

Historical Examples of severity

  • She'll drive him to me again; but oh, the shame of taking him so, given to me by her severity!

  • The severity of this Winter caused great difficulties in Kentucke.

  • "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)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Bred in coldness and severity, this had rescued him to have a warm and sympathetic heart.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper