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Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The state or quality of being severe.
  • n. The act or an instance of severe behavior, especially punishment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being severe.
  • n. The degree of something undesirable; badness or seriousness.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being severe.
  • n. Gravity or austerity; extreme strictness; rigor; harshness.
  • n. The quality or power of distressing or paining; extreme degree; extremity; intensity; inclemency.
  • n. Harshness; cruel treatment; sharpness of punishment.
  • n. Exactness; rigorousness; strictness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The character or state of being severe.
  • n. Extreme rigor; strictness; rigidity; harshness.
  • n. Harshness; cruel treatment; sharpness of punishment: as, severity practised on prisoners of war.
  • n. In lit., art, etc., the quality of strict conformity to an ideal rule or standard; studied moderation; freedom from all exuberance or florid ornament; purity of line and form; austerity of style.
  • n. The quality or power of afflicting, distressing, or paining; extreme degree; extremity; keenness: as, the severity of pain or anguish; the severity of cold or heat; the severity of the winter.
  • n. Exactness; rigor; niceness: as, the severity of a test.
  • n. Strictness; rigid accuracy.
  • n. Synonyms and Asperity, Harshness, etc. (see acrimony), unkindness.—, , and Sharpness, keenness, force. See list under harshness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something hard to endure
  • n. excessive sternness
  • n. extreme plainness
  • n. used of the degree of something undesirable e.g. pain or weather

Etymologies

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