Severity is a plain, no-frills hardness––or the degree of hardness. You might talk about the severity of the northern winter, or the severity of your grandfather's discipline.

Severity, with its root in severe, has several nuances. It can mean a hardship, like war’s severity. It also refers to an extreme plainness. Think of the severity of Amish life: no phones, cars, or other modern technology. And you might use it to describe your math teacher’s manner: his severity is indicated by his short, clipped sentences, angry stare, and propensity to fail students without mercy.

Definitions of severity

n excessive sternness

severity of character”
hardness, harshness, inclemency, rigor, rigorousness, rigour, rigourousness, severeness, stiffness
Type of:
sternness, strictness
uncompromising resolution

n extreme plainness

austereness, severeness
Type of:
the appearance of being plain and unpretentious

n something hard to endure

asperity, grimness, hardship, rigor, rigorousness, rigour, rigourousness, severeness
the quality (as of scenery) being grim and gloomy and forbidding
Type of:
difficultness, difficulty
the quality of being difficult

n used of the degree of something undesirable e.g. pain or weather

badness, severeness
foulness, raininess
(of weather) the badness of the weather
distressfulness, seriousness
the quality of arousing fear or distress
Type of:
intensity, intensiveness
high level or degree; the property of being intense

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