- firm, strict, or uncompromising: stern discipline.
- hard, harsh, or severe: a stern reprimand.
- rigorous or austere; of an unpleasantly serious character: stern times.
- grim or forbidding in aspect: a stern face.
Origin of stern1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for stern on Thesaurus.com
- the after part of a vessel (often opposed to stem).
- the back or rear of anything.
- (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Puppis.
- Fox Hunting. the tail of a hound.
Origin of stern2
- Isaac,1920–2001, U.S. violinist, born in Russia.
- Otto,1888–1969, U.S. physicist, born in Germany: Nobel prize 1943.
- variant of sterno- before a vowel: sternite.
Examples from the Web for stern
But at the end of the day, as a governor, you have to be stern and there are decisions you have to make.Wyclef Jean Talks Lauryn Hill, the Yele Haiti Controversy, and Chris Christie
November 20, 2014
I like to end columns with a potential policy fix, some kind of suggested action, or at least a stern finger-wagging.GOP States’ Hitlist: Abortion, Unions & Hillary
November 18, 2014
After a stern media backlash, Dunham decided to pay her opening acts and, predictably, all was forgiven.Will White Feminists Finally Dump Lena Dunham?
November 4, 2014
Self-realized masters can get stern and even appear angry if a disciple openly manifests some undesirable character trait.When Gary Wright Met George Harrison: Dream Weaver, John and Yoko, and More
September 29, 2014
The former Today co-host Deborah Norville spoke after Stern.I Was There: Inside Joan Rivers’ Funeral
September 8, 2014
Stern displeasure was visible in the countenance of the great sculptor.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
Close by the stern stood Black Simon with the pennon of the house of Loring.
Yet, measured according to the stern standards of adversity, Mary was fortunate.Within the Law
The Castle of Villefranche was harsh and stern as its master.
The veteran at the stern we could not see, but doubtless his skill was equally remarkable.The Roof of France
- showing uncompromising or inflexible resolve; firm, strict, or authoritarian
- lacking leniency or clemency; harsh or severe
- relentless; unyieldingthe stern demands of parenthood
- having an austere or forbidding appearance or nature
- the rear or after part of a vessel, opposite the bow or stem
- the rear part of any object
- the tail of certain breeds of dog, such as the foxhound or beagle
- relating to or located at the stern
- Isaac. 1920–2001, US concert violinist, born in (what is now) Ukraine
Word Origin and History for stern
Old English styrne "severe, strict," from Proto-Germanic *sternijaz (cf. Middle High German sterre, German starr "stiff," störrig "obstinate;" Gothic andstaurran "to be stiff;" Old Norse stara; Old English starian "to look or gaze upon"), from PIE root *ster-, *star- "be rigid" (see sterile).
c.1300, "hind part of a ship, steering gear of a ship," probably from Old Norse stjorn "a steering," related to styra "to guide" (see steer (v.)). Or the word may come from Old Frisian stiarne "rudder," which is also related to steer (v.).