adjective (severer, severest)
- 1(Of something bad or undesirable) very great; intense: a severe shortage of technicians a severe attack of asthma the damage is not too severeMore example sentences
acute, very bad, serious, grave, critical, dire, drastic, grievous, extreme, dreadful, terrible, awful, frightful, appalling, sore; alarming, worrying, distressing, dangerous, perilous, life-threatening; Medicine peracute, profound• archaic or • humorous parlousfierce, violent, strong, wild, powerful, forceful, intense; tempestuous, turbulent, tumultuousexcruciating, agonizing, violent, intense, dreadful, awful, terrible, frightful, unbearable, intolerable, unendurable; stabbing, shooting
- Mrs Al-Munchi is believed to have suffered a severe asthma attack earlier in the day.
- Henry Bartlam was only six weeks old when he suffered a severe asthma attack which nearly killed him.
- A girl died from a severe asthma attack that may have been triggered by bullying, an inquest heard.
- 1.1Demanding great ability, skill, or resilience: a severe test of staminaMore example sentences
- Jose Mourinho's managerial skills would face a severe test.
- The matches, all played in front of crowds in the impressive Hong Kong stadium, combine fast-handling rugby with severe tests of stamina.
- And Jewell knows he is now facing up to a severe test of his managerial skills as Wigan aim to set off on a winning run.
- 2(Of punishment of a person) strict or harsh: the charges would have warranted a severe sentenceMore example sentences
harsh, hard, bitter, bitterly cold, cold, bleak, freezing, icy, arctic, polar, Siberian, extreme, nastyscathing, sharp, strong, fierce, ferocious, stringent, savage, blistering, searing, stinging, scorching, devastating, mordant, trenchant, caustic, biting, cutting, withering, rigorous, unsparing; smart, soundextortionate, excessive, unreasonable, inordinate, outrageous, sky-high, harsh, stiff; punitive, punishing, penal; British swingeingstrict, stern, rigorous, harsh, hard, inflexible, uncompromising, inexorable, implacable, rigid, unbending, relentless, unrelenting, unyielding, merciless, pitiless, ruthless, draconian, oppressive, repressive, punitive, rough, nasty; tyrannical, iron-fisted, iron-handed, brutal, inhuman, cruel, savageAustralian/New Zealand • informal solid
- Certainly, there should be stricter laws and more severe punishments for breaking them, if we want to live in a violence-free society.
- It was a strict regime and punishments were severe.
- We bore harsh criticism for our efforts and some of us suffered severe punishment.
- 2.1(Of a person) formal and unsmiling.More example sentences
- She was tall and stout with grey hair and a severe expression on her face.
- His joyfully mysterious grin strangely comforted her because it made him appear gentler, less severe.
- 3Very plain in style or appearance: she wore another severe suit, grey this timeMore example sentences
- A girl in a rather severe suit wanted to see his driver's licence as proof of identity.
- He wears impeccably tailored suits in the traditional, severe Soviet style.
- As always, his attiring room looked windswept and severe: a plain chest, a narrow mirror, a low divan spread with furs.
mid 16th century (in sense 2): from French sévère or Latin severus.