Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “severe”

See all translations

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.
More examples

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)
What is the pronunciation of severe?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “severe” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

be as cold as ice

to be extremely cold

Word of the Day

Let’s celebrate! (words and phrases for parties)

by Kate Woodford,
December 17, 2014
​​​ With Christmas and New Year almost upon us, we thought it a good time to look at the language of parties and celebrations. First, let’s start with the word ‘party’ itself. To have or throw a party or, less commonly, to give a party is to arrange a party: We’re having a

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More