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Syllabification: aus·tere
Pronunciation: /ôˈstir

Definition of austere in English:

adjective (austerer, austerest)

1Severe or strict in manner, attitude, or appearance: an austere man, with a rigidly puritanical outlook an austere expression
More example sentences
  • He was faulted for refusing to delegate and for favouring incompetent friends, while his austere and overbearing manner led to clashes with state governors and military commanders.
  • But I must warn you, once we get past the hallway and into the room, the occupants are rather strict and austere.
  • Peter expected high standards, but his sometimes austere manner veiled a deep concern for people and an insight into the human condition.
severe, stern, strict, harsh, steely, flinty, dour, grim, cold, frosty, unemotional, unfriendly;
formal, stiff, reserved, aloof, forbidding;
hard, unyielding, unbending, inflexible
informal hard-boiled
1.1(Of living conditions or a way of life) having no comforts or luxuries; harsh or ascetic: conditions in the prison could hardly be more austere
More example sentences
  • I have lived and worked in austere conditions, lifted and carried heavy equipment and never hesitated to assist in the effort to help the enemy die for their country.
  • The squadron face austere conditions in the desert, living under canvas.
  • Creatures that occupy the Sonoran Desert have evolved over time to survive under notoriously austere conditions.
ascetic, self-denying, self-disciplined, nonindulgent, frugal, spartan, puritanical, abstemious, abstinent, self-sacrificing, strict, temperate, sober, simple, restrained;
celibate, chaste
1.2Having an extremely plain and simple style or appearance; unadorned: the cathedral is impressive in its austere simplicity
More example sentences
  • The interior is breathtakingly austere in appearance; simple but effective use of lighting creates the appropriate atmosphere.
  • At the moment I am considering making my website very austere and plain… you know, seeing that the prints themselves have enough to say without having to compete with the graphics, or something.
  • All of this is presented in a style that is both austere and beautiful - plain as can be, yet suffused with an appreciation for artifice as a way of survival.
1.3(Of an economic policy or measure) designed to reduce a budget deficit, especially by cutting public expenditure.
Example sentences
  • The net result is that public support for governmental austere economic policies has been questionable.
  • Here in Brazil, he has defended austere monetary and fiscal policies, and externally he is seen as the champion of the poor.
  • What may have compelled such austere policies?


Middle English: via Old French from Latin austerus, from Greek austēros 'severe'.



Example sentences
  • His early works are romantic treatments of subjects from Ovid and Tasso; later he developed an austerely classical style.
  • It is austerely modernist, making little concession to either plot or character, more like a fictive sculpture than a story, an obsessively repeated series of patterns.
  • His status among the people was consolidated by his lifestyle - he lived austerely, and never married.

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