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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).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nearly 200 other cases of varying severeness have been reported across US, TechCrunch reports.
going to on and so brave this point Gray "From being someone who had gone very regularly, to finding out they were so at the end of the scale in terms of severeness - you just panic and you're like, 'what the hell?' "I remember the lady at Trafford hospital saying if you'd left this for another three years, then it could have been very, very different.
He said the ministry has categorised the ASAL counties according to the severeness of the drought.
In order to investigate potential biological role of IL-32 in obvious difference in severeness of diffuse form of gastric cancer in comparison to intestinal form, we have analyzed the expression of IL-32 in tumor tissue.
Hellhammer, "Blunted HPA axis responsiveness to stress in atopic patients is associated with the acuity and severeness of allergic inflammation," Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol.