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adj. se·ver·er, se·ver·est
1. Unsparing, harsh, or strict, as in treatment of others: a severe critic.
2. Marked by or requiring strict adherence to rigorous standards or high principles: a severe code of behavior.
3. Stern or forbidding, as in manner or appearance: spoke in a severe voice.
4. Extremely plain in substance or style: a severe black dress.
5. Causing great discomfort, damage, or distress: a severe pain; a severe storm.
6. Very dangerous or harmful; grave or grievous: severe mental illness.
7. Extremely difficult to perform or endure; trying: a severe test of our loyalty.

[Latin sevērus, serious, strict; see segh- in Indo-European roots.]

se·vere′ly adv.
se·vere′ness n.
Synonyms: severe, stern1, austere, ascetic, strict
These adjectives mean unsparing and exacting with respect to discipline or control. Severe implies adherence to rigorous standards or high principles and often suggests harshness: "Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works" (John Keats).
Stern suggests unyielding disposition, uncompromising resolution, or forbidding appearance or nature: "She was a stern woman who ran the household with precision and an iron hand" (Margaret Truman).
Austere connotes aloofness or lack of feeling or sympathy, and often rigid morality: "The captain ... was an austere man that never laughed or smiled that one could see" (Alan Paton).
Ascetic suggests self-discipline and often renunciation of worldly pleasures for spiritual improvement: "Be systematically ascetic ... do ... something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it" (William James).
Strict means requiring or showing stringent observance of obligations, rules, or standards: "She was afraid to wake him up because even in his sleep he seemed to be such a strict man" (Eudora Welty).
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.severeness - used of the degree of something undesirable e.g. pain or weathersevereness - used of the degree of something undesirable e.g. pain or weather
intensiveness, intensity - high level or degree; the property of being intense
raininess, foulness - (of weather) the badness of the weather; "they were wearied with the foulness of the weather"
distressfulness, seriousness - the quality of arousing fear or distress; "he learned the seriousness of his illness"
2.severeness - something hard to enduresevereness - something hard to endure; "the asperity of northern winters"
difficultness, difficulty - the quality of being difficult; "they agreed about the difficulty of the climb"
sternness - the quality (as of scenery) being grim and gloomy and forbidding; "the sternness of his surroundings made him uncomfortable"
3.severeness - extreme plainnesssevereness - extreme plainness      
plainness - the appearance of being plain and unpretentious
4.severeness - excessive sternness; "severity of character"; "the harshness of his punishment was inhuman"; "the rigors of boot camp"
sternness, strictness - uncompromising resolution
References in periodicals archive ?
He said the ministry has categorised the ASAL counties according to the severeness of the drought.
Her long dark nails only add to the severeness of this look.
Lozadas actuation was prompted by her affection for her husband and that in essence, she was not representing a client but rather a spouse, we deem it proper to mitigate the severeness of her penalty," the Court said.
Slower full and partial recovery for self-employed with a cardiovascular disorder can be explained from the severeness of such disorders.