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English definition of “severe”

severe

adjective uk   /sɪˈvɪər/ us    /-ˈvɪr/

severe adjective (VERY SERIOUS)

B2 causing very great pain, difficulty, worry, damage, etc.; very serious: a severe chest infection/leg injury/toothache This is a school for children with severe learning difficulties. In parts of Africa there is a severe food/water shortage. There is expected to be a severe frost tonight. Severe cutbacks in public spending have been announced. extreme or very difficult: This will be a severe test of our strength.

severe adjective (NOT KIND)

B2 not kind or showing sympathy; not willing to accept other people's mistakes or failures: The headteacher spoke in a severe voice. The government is currently facing severe criticism. There are severe penalties for failing to declare all your income to the tax authorities.

severe adjective (PLAIN)

often disapproving completely plain and without decoration: She wore a severe black dress, and plain black shoes. I don't like these severe modern buildings.
(Definition of severe from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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