One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1In a serious and severe manner, especially when asserting authority or exercising discipline.‘he sternly warned me to not do anything stupid’‘the government will deal sternly with illegal strikes’
- ‘You are better off dealing sternly with problem employees than continuing to bear the pain.’
- ‘He told prosecutors he was disturbed by the accusations and sternly demanded an explanation.’
- ‘The butler sternly points her to the back door.’
- ‘They stopped a young man on the road and sternly repeated their warning.’
- ‘Michael said sternly, "I'll give them five more minutes."’
- 1.1 In a way that is difficult and puts extreme pressure on someone or something.‘a fight had ensued, which sternly tested my peace-making skills’‘being sternly challenged came with the territory as defending champions’
- ‘The subject matter seems unlikely to appeal to the party's sternly conservative grass roots.’
- ‘The breakdowns which have been reported will be sternly investigated.’
- ‘They should be sternly tried by human conscience for having slandered us with all sorts of lies and plots.’
- ‘His method yields a collection more sternly systematic than Smith's.’
- ‘His symphony is patchy in both structure and content but its sentiments are held sternly in check.’
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