Definition of austerity in English:



  • 1Sternness or severity of manner or attitude.

    ‘he was noted for his austerity and his authoritarianism’
    • ‘Joyce regards his world variously, with rigorous irony, satiric austerity - yet with unflagging magnanimity and pervasive humor.’
    • ‘The austerity that one normally associates with courthouses is also quickly dispelled by the sight of a roaring open fire, a sight to delight on a cold, wet January night.’
    • ‘In observable characteristics, Saturn depicts someone who is characterised by austerity or seriousness.’
    • ‘Idealism, integrity, austerity, sacrifice; these were the signatures of the middle class to which they belonged.’
    • ‘His chin is firm, mouth straight and serious, a hint of austerity balanced by humour in the corners.’
    • ‘She has added an element of sophisticated glamour to his image of Presbyterian austerity.’
    • ‘He was a mix of austerity and kindness, often a sweet and solicitous friend.’
    • ‘Virgil's purpose was moral, and his main concern is to describe the farmer's virtues of austerity, integrity, and hard work, which made Rome great.’
    severity, harshness, rigidity, rigidness, stringency, rigorousness, austerity
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance.
      ‘the room was decorated with a restraint bordering on austerity’
      • ‘At times, however, music of great austerity and purity is shattered by painful, pounding discords.’
      • ‘The simplicity and the austerity of Huguenot ritual reflects their thoroughgoing sense of the difference between physical and spiritual ‘death.’’
      • ‘A lot of the architecture in the city centre as a whole dates from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th and is a mixture of Victorian austerity and art nouveau decadence.’
      • ‘There is elegance to the restraint and austerity of the imagery that extends to, or perhaps finds inspiration in, the clean utility of the printed page.’
      • ‘Like it or not, the beauty of mathematics springs from its rigorous austerity.’
      • ‘The geometric segments of the sails have a quite mathematical purity and austerity.’
      • ‘Particularly relevant is Hawes's preference for an architecture of honesty and austerity, stripped of unnecessary embellishment and free of copyism.’
      • ‘In this historical context, the director's main aim is to remind the audience of virtues such as coherence, austerity, passion and faith.’
      • ‘I especially love Inuit art for its austerity and cleanliness.’
      • ‘His uncanny, unmistakable style crossed Cubist austerity with lush Surrealism.’
      • ‘It had charm despite its austerity: a few books and an empty vase on the sideboard.’
      plainness, absence of adornment, lack of adornment, absence of decoration, lack of decoration, absence of ornament, absence of ornamentation, lack of ornament, lack of ornamentation, absence of embellishment, lack of embellishment, unpretentiousness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2austerities Conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism.
      ‘a simple life of prayer and personal austerity’
      • ‘She matured, and the family she came from grew into power and riches, during the last, magnificent flowering of the Papacy before it was threatened by the austerities of the Reformation.’
      • ‘The four-and-a-half hours of sleep a night is only part of the austerities practiced here.’
      • ‘That is not to say that we must deliberately seek out physical austerities, because this may have the wrong effect.’
      • ‘Such austerities were employed in an attempt to gain insight into the fundamental nature of existence.’
      • ‘Alive, they lit fewer votive candles, and showed less interest in religious confraternities or the austerities of the monastic life.’
      • ‘The mind is not softened by fasting or austerities.’
      • ‘By reciting certain mantras and performing austerities one's consciousness is expanded and one develops supernatural abilities.’
      • ‘As he approaches 80, he seems to be relaxing some of the long-held austerities of his art.’
      • ‘Suddenly, the austerities of the past two months, as well as the glorious thoughts, dreams and visions all merged within my consciousness.’
      • ‘Many also practised severe austerities, subjecting themselves to extremes of temperature, hunger and thirst, painful bodily distortions, and various other kinds of self-denial.’
      • ‘They are not formally bound to the evangelical counsels of perfection nor do they practice visible austerities.’
      • ‘During his extensive wanderings, he practiced great austerities, but apparently became disillusioned with these methods.’
      • ‘The austerities of the Second World War and its aftermath put an end to whimsical parties.’
    3. 1.3 Difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce a budget deficit, especially by reducing public expenditure.
      ‘a period of austerity’
      [as modifier] ‘austerity measures’
      • ‘Further cuts and austerity measures affecting social expenditure can already be foreseen.’
      • ‘A small degree of economic growth was recorded in 1995, despite a sense of economic crisis in the country, which led to the introduction of economic austerity measures.’
      • ‘Earlier this year, China launched austerity measures to reduce the amount of construction activity in leading cities to prevent the economy from overheating.’
      • ‘After the lean austerity of the war years a growing number of Australian fashion designers were able to source a wide range of materials to create stunning garments for all manner of social occasions.’
      • ‘If the European Commission and EcoFin can actually manage to force Germany and France into austerity programs with the threat of fiscal sanctions, then the supranational argument wins the day.’
      • ‘The continuation of economic austerity policies under these conditions has provoked a wave of upheavals throughout the continent.’
      • ‘The subject of the campaign, ironically, is fiscal austerity,’ Campbell said in a press release.’
      • ‘International financial investors appeared satisfied, at least for the moment, with a new round of economic austerity measures that provoked crippling strikes by the Argentine workers last week.’
      • ‘The austerity measures have created a pool of discontented young men, with no prospect of a job or a future, who are being exploited by militia leaders for their own ends.’
      • ‘The new austerity measures include higher taxes on wages and pensions and a value-added tax on services, such as transportation, which up to now had been exempt.’
      • ‘Moreover, colourful and spectacular films provided a welcome means of escape from the austerities of the post-war era.’
      • ‘The war years brought loss of loved ones, social change, times of austerity, an awareness of New Zealand's vulnerability, and defence measures.’
      • ‘In this manner the culture of austerity forces otherwise reluctant workers into the labour market thus helps keep wages down.…’
      • ‘The protesters are demanding the government rescind a series of austerity measures that would tax workers' wages and pensions.’
      • ‘The festival aimed to raise the nation's spirits following the war and years of austerity, whilst promoting the very best in British art, design and industry.’
      • ‘After the devastation of war and years of austerity, the Festival aimed to raise the nation's spirits whilst promoting the very best in British art, design and industry.’
      • ‘A program of austerity measures and economic reforms may please foreign capital but it will not guarantee popular support.’
      • ‘Oh, well, in the war, of course it was austerity; the whole centre of Manchester was totally destroyed.’
      • ‘The downturn in the economy caused the government to impose harsh austerity measures.’
      • ‘When Canadians patiently accepted cutbacks to health care, unemployment insurance, and many other social programs, we were told that all this austerity was necessary to attract foreign investors.’
      • ‘But after 1945, Britain was marked by austerity.’
      privation, deprivation, destitution, poverty, austerity, penury, want, need, neediness, beggary, impecuniousness, impecuniosity, financial distress
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from French austérité, from Latin austeritas, from austerus severe (see austere).