Definition of austere in US English:

austere

adjective

  • 1Severe or strict in manner, attitude, or appearance.

    ‘an austere man, with a rigidly puritanical outlook’
    ‘an austere expression’
    • ‘He is not magnetic but on the contrary cold and austere.’
    • ‘His spokesman says the king is a reserved, austere man.’
    • ‘An austere and formal man, his affection for his wife and seven living children was minimal.’
    • ‘Cookie, realizing exactly how her words must have sounded, cracked a smile as well, softening her austere expression somewhat.’
    • ‘He looks and sounds every inch the austere, reserved and respected university lecturer that he once was.’
    • ‘He was austere, dour, kind, and hard working.’
    • ‘Reflects Meyers: ‘Orwell's austere, dour, spartan and ascetic character as well as his tall, gangly figure was more Scottish than English.’’
    • ‘His cold manner, dogmatic socialism, and austere disposition did not endear him to everyone, least of all to Churchill, but he had a brilliant brain, and was too valuable to lose.’
    • ‘He is seen, with some justification, as a cold, austere writer, one who belongs to a line that includes Thomas Mann and Samuel Beckett rather than more marketable writers.’
    • ‘He seems a somewhat austere and unsympathetic figure and his verses today seem dull and obscure, in translation at least.’
    • ‘He is very reserved and austere, just as you would imagine a grand old man of ancient times to be.’
    • ‘Obvious concern was etched on her face, making it loose its austere quality.’
    • ‘He comes over as a rather serious, studious and austere man, but there is clearly another side to him.’
    • ‘The last thing I could remember is the physician giving me an anesthetic shot and Matik's austere expression.’
    • ‘Peter expected high standards, but his sometimes austere manner veiled a deep concern for people and an insight into the human condition.’
    • ‘He was gifted with a great sense of humour, and it was unsuspected by those who did not know him really well because of his austere appearance.’
    • ‘Ishmael was struck by the man's austere expression.’
    • ‘But I must warn you, once we get past the hallway and into the room, the occupants are rather strict and austere.’
    • ‘Yes, well, it's almost a transformation of these serious and austere people.’
    • ‘He was faulted for refusing to delegate and for favouring incompetent friends, while his austere and overbearing manner led to clashes with state governors and military commanders.’
    severe, stern, strict, harsh, unfeeling, stony, steely, flinty, dour, grim, cold, frosty, frigid, icy, chilly, unemotional, unfriendly, formal, stiff, stuffy, reserved, remote, distant, aloof, forbidding, mean-looking, grave, solemn, serious, unsmiling, unsympathetic, unforgiving, uncharitable
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    1. 1.1 (of living conditions or a way of life) having no comforts or luxuries; harsh or ascetic.
      ‘conditions in the prison could hardly be more austere’
      • ‘But what tempts these youngsters to leave the security of home and lucrative jobs for an austere lifestyle of development work in India?’
      • ‘Combining a depressing ending and austere realism with an idealistic, descriptive story is one of Hemingway's particulars of style.’
      • ‘Creatures that occupy the Sonoran Desert have evolved over time to survive under notoriously austere conditions.’
      • ‘A drab, austere society had suddenly been plunged into a more competitive, glamorized world in the 1970s and 1980s.’
      • ‘Everyone likes the warm and comforting feel of the garden - it is not austere.’
      • ‘As well, the austere lifestyle chosen by King Ferdinand and his lords could be the medieval equivalent of today's self-improvement craze.’
      • ‘Thank you for publicizing the hard work our Air Force professionals accomplish in such austere conditions.’
      • ‘Living conditions, austere at best, included leased warehouses not designed as living quarters or office space.’
      • ‘‘He was taken away from his mother and brought up in a cold, austere home with little affection or comfort,’ Cynthia writes.’
      • ‘They were the toilers and savers of the economic miracle generation who forswore luxuries in the austere postwar decades to reserve their place in the sun towards the end of their lives.’
      • ‘Discipline will be strict, meals will be austere and she will be allowed to write to her family only once a week.’
      • ‘Justinian led an austere life, working hard for long hours and expecting the same of subordinates.’
      • ‘The conditions are austere: one book for ten children, a tiny blackboard and a roof with holes.’
      • ‘I have lived and worked in austere conditions, lifted and carried heavy equipment and never hesitated to assist in the effort to help the enemy die for their country.’
      • ‘The squadron face austere conditions in the desert, living under canvas.’
      • ‘Though he decided against monastic life, he found the austere lifestyle an important model.’
      • ‘The space itself is minimally arranged: it is clinical, but not austere - a type of investigation room.’
      • ‘On the other hand William was totally unpretentious and extremely austere in his living arrangements.’
      • ‘During her month in the 1950s, Hina had to endure strict discipline, austere meals, outdoor swimming and incessant tests.’
      • ‘Hard-edged surfaces can make bathrooms seem cold and austere.’
      strict, self-denying, self-abnegating, moderate, temperate, sober, simple, frugal, spartan, restrained, self-restrained, self-disciplined, non-indulgent, ascetic, puritanical, self-sacrificing, hair-shirt, abstemious, abstinent, celibate, chaste, continent
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    2. 1.2 Having an extremely plain and simple style or appearance; unadorned.
      ‘the cathedral is impressive in its austere simplicity’
      • ‘The compound loomed in front of him, the cement walls austere and forbidding.’
      • ‘She had no formal training but developed a rigorous, austere style, counter-pointed by a sensuous use of color, which she maintained for many decades.’
      • ‘He is the most rigorous, spare, austere of film-makers.’
      • ‘These pieces are austere and unadorned in a way that I'd associate with Shaker simplicity and grace.’
      • ‘Like much of the liturgical music of the Orthodox tradition, Tavener's music is intentionally simple and even austere.’
      • ‘It forcibly reduces this complexity and diversity to an austere homogenous simplicity.’
      • ‘On a technical level, the look of the film is deceptively simple and austere.’
      • ‘Here is something designed to be functional and austere.’
      • ‘He has purchased a wide range of artwork, including colorful, cartoonish prints and wild abstracts framed in austere black mouldings.’
      • ‘Harris's influence, however, isn't apparent in the serious, austere and occasionally beautiful music on this disk.’
      • ‘Presentation is austere: the hardback, which is matt black with silvered lettering, has no dust jacket, no tables, and no illustrations.’
      • ‘At the moment I am considering making my website very austere and plain… you know, seeing that the prints themselves have enough to say without having to compete with the graphics, or something.’
      • ‘There was no simple retreat from austere aristocratic classicism to bourgeois romanticism.’
      • ‘It was a gorgeous, awe-inspiring piece of modern machinery - almost Zen-like in its shining simplicity and austere precision.’
      • ‘The interior is breathtakingly austere in appearance; simple but effective use of lighting creates the appropriate atmosphere.’
      • ‘Bresson developed an austere formalist style that placed him in a pivotal role in the development of modern cinema.’
      • ‘Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty, a beauty cold and austere like that of sculpture.’
      • ‘Church buildings and worship were austere and simple, and the service mainly consisted of lengthy sermons.’
      • ‘The cathedral, which must have been brilliantly decorated when it was a Catholic place of worship, is very austere in the Reformist manner.’
      • ‘All of this is presented in a style that is both austere and beautiful - plain as can be, yet suffused with an appreciation for artifice as a way of survival.’
      plain, simple, basic, functional, modest, unadorned, undecorated, unornamented, unembellished, unostentatious, unfurnished, uncluttered, unfussy, without frills, subdued, muted, restrained
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    3. 1.3 (of an economic policy or measure) designed to reduce a budget deficit, especially by cutting public expenditure.
      • ‘Here in Brazil, he has defended austere monetary and fiscal policies, and externally he is seen as the champion of the poor.’
      • ‘What we want is abundant savings and investment in private enterprises, and a lean, austere, low-budget, minimal government.’
      • ‘Employment with a foreign aid agency became the best way to earn a substantial salary in a competitive and still austere economy.’
      • ‘The marketing budget is also necessarily austere, but at least it is cheap in a creative way.’
      • ‘The budget - the most austere of Bush's presidency - would eliminate or vastly scale back 150 government programs.’
      • ‘But he insisted that he was trying to return to the traditions of Gladstone's austere Victorian budgets - fairer and simpler taxes, and tight control on spending.’
      • ‘He also surprised his listeners by proposing an austere economic policy that would keep interest rates at levels as high as needed to control the growing inflation.’
      • ‘School districts have a finite amount of resources - resources which are especially limited in fiscally austere times like our current recession.’
      • ‘We inherited those austere policies and the consequences of them.’
      • ‘What may have compelled such austere policies?’
      • ‘Even rich countries like Canada have been forced to adopt austere budget policies to cope with currency-induced turmoil.’
      • ‘This resulted, uniformly, in austere macroeconomic policies that emphasized liberalization, export orientation, and an end to social subsidies.’
      • ‘The net result is that public support for governmental austere economic policies has been questionable.’

Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin austerus, from Greek austēros ‘severe’.

Pronunciation

austere

/ɔˈstɪr//ôˈstir/