Main definitions of stern in US English:

: stern1stern2

stern1

adjective

  • 1(of a person or their manner) serious and unrelenting, especially in the assertion of authority and exercise of discipline.

    ‘a smile transformed his stern face’
    ‘Mama looked stern’
    • ‘But, behind a somewhat stern exterior, Brian was a modest and very likeable man.’
    • ‘He is tall and his face is stern; his clothing is simple and unadorned.’
    • ‘All are stern judges and they expect others to be as serious about everything as they are.’
    • ‘At first her face was stern, and she stared intensely at Sadie.’
    • ‘He got up on his knees and put on a jokingly stern face.’
    • ‘Her mother was a good cook and her father wasn't the stern disciplinarian he expected.’
    • ‘For those who expect a stern teacher and a serious photographer, he is a bundle of surprise.’
    • ‘She wiped her hands on her once-white apron before putting them on her hips in a stern manner.’
    • ‘He was my mother's favorite brother and our least favorite Uncle; he was too stern, too serious, too strict.’
    • ‘Adam's relaxed yet stern expression was deeply unsettling.’
    • ‘Ever wonder why I seem to be so stern half the time?’
    • ‘The middle-aged woman was very stern, and often unaware of her tedious lectures.’
    • ‘Her growing rapport with the von Trapp children, coupled with her generosity and spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain and they are soon married.’
    • ‘‘I have already spoken to your brother,’ she said in a tone that reminded me of a stern nun for some odd reason.’
    • ‘He is stern at first, then becomes kindly, charming, mischievous.’
    • ‘I felt as if I were back in school and under the eye of a very stern teacher.’
    • ‘She spoke as quietly as her brother, but her voice was more stern.’
    • ‘But she was stern in demeanor and normally carried a serious face.’
    • ‘They look at our tickets uncertainly and say they can't let us in, but perhaps we can speak to their boss, a stern man who is marching across the road towards us even as we turn towards him.’
    • ‘His voice was more stern than I remembered.’
    serious, unsmiling, frowning, poker-faced, severe, forbidding, grim, unfriendly, sombre, grave, sober, austere, dour, stony, flinty, steely, unrelenting, unyielding, unforgiving, unbending, unsympathetic, disapproving
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an act or statement) strict and severe; using extreme measures or terms.
      ‘stern measures to restrict growth of traffic’
      • ‘But her stern directives made officials step on the gas.’
      • ‘After eating a batch of rather strong eucalyptus leaves in a game that involved us pretending to be koalas, we were given stern instructions not to eat any flora.’
      • ‘His stern objection to secret loans has struck a hard and unexpected blow.’
      • ‘After 50 minutes of stern questions and answers - the length of a typical undergraduate class - the interrogation is over.’
      • ‘A police spokesperson said they were given a stern warning and released.’
      • ‘She had some stern advice for those attending the performance.’
      • ‘I offer my wholehearted congratulations to Garrett - and a stern warning, too.’
      • ‘Penalties range from a stern warning to fines to lawsuits.’
      • ‘We were released with a very stern warning about controlled substances, but no charges were laid.’
      • ‘He still spoke in his cool voice but it was a stern statement.’
      • ‘Now despite that quite stern warning, the gate's wide open and absolutely anybody could wander in if they wanted to.’
      • ‘These episodes were unpredictable yet frequent enough to elicit a stern warning from her job supervisor.’
      • ‘And they have issued a stern warning to those responsible: Stop before somebody dies.’
      • ‘It has been praised by the regional water watchdog for what it is doing while others have come in for stern criticism.’
      • ‘We had stern orders not to try to move and play our instruments at the same time.’
      • ‘Today's briefing, she said, will be used to convey a stern warning to employers that such discrimination was unlawful.’
      • ‘I've delivered her a stern rebuke and promised I'll be back to conduct regular inspections.’
      • ‘A vote of censure, with a stern warning attached, ought to suffice.’
      • ‘I did not physically punish them; a stern rebuke was effective enough.’
      • ‘He was met with a steely glare and a stern reply: ‘Do you think popping a balloon is funny?’’
      strict, severe, stringent, harsh, drastic, hard, tough, fierce, extreme, rigorous, rigid, exacting, demanding, uncompromising, unsparing, inflexible, authoritarian, draconian
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of competition or opposition) putting someone or something under extreme pressure.
      ‘the past year has been a stern test of the ability of local industry’
      • ‘Harrogate initially applied stern pressure in the afternoon singles, but the York lads countered strongly to take command.’
      • ‘This Friday they face a stern test when they travel to play Carlow outfit Killeen.’
      • ‘It was expected to be a stern test, and over the 80 minutes it proved to be just that.’
      • ‘After thirty-four minutes, Ballina's stern pressure paid off.’
      • ‘All geared up for a crucial play-off clash, the Reds failed to provide as stern a test as they needed to against the Cumbrains.’
      • ‘Even though the Waratahs will be depleted due to Wallabies commitments, they will still present a stern challenge for a Scotland side that will be shorn of the conquering test heroes.’
      • ‘The controversial plan is facing stern opposition by locals and following a very well attended meeting last month this months meeting is set once again to draw a very large crowd.’
      • ‘Fort William, meanwhile, have given notice that they will offer a stern challenge to all comers in the months ahead.’
      • ‘St Hugh's provided stern opposition and plenty of character but could not cope with the extra ability found amongst the team in claret and blue.’
      • ‘Troublemakers who create a nuisance at Lancaster bus station are to face stern new opposition.’
      • ‘Fifth-placed Eccleshill, with one defeat in four, will provide a stern test tomorrow.’
      • ‘Leitrim did provide stern opposition for long periods, but Sligo's superior skill and fitness levels ensured that they prevailed in the end.’
      • ‘South Grafton will be facing a stern test on Sunday when they face Casino at home.’
      • ‘The loss leaves a huge and widening gap between York and league safety with some very stern tests coming shortly.’
      • ‘It was not long before the new military organisation was exposed to the stern test of war.’
      • ‘Only bitter rivals New Zealand provide stern opposition, but recently the Aussies have been getting the better of these encounters.’
      • ‘That would be an excellent achievement but we know that Dublin pose a very stern test.’
      • ‘We thought this would be a stern challenge, even sterner than the Lions games.’
      • ‘Instead of creating the platform for a stern challenge, however, it was to be their final score of the half.’
      • ‘This will be a stern test for Ballintubber and all club supporters are asked to turn up and give their support to the boys in red.’

Phrases

  • be made of sterner stuff

    • Have a stronger character and be more able to overcome problems than others.

      ‘whereas James was deeply wounded by the failure, George was made of sterner stuff’
      • ‘Thankfully, our medieval forbears were made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘To him disappointment means little, he is made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘But the elite athletes of the ancient world, it seems, were made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘Roberts is made of sterner stuff than her hometown image suggests.’
      • ‘Livy kept fidgeting, and I knew she was dying to talk about Haley, but Noelle was made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘Not a good sign, to be sure, but the rest of us were made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘At your age, your Grandmother and Father were made of sterner stuff and showed more consideration for their future role.’
      • ‘I suppose leaders were made of sterner stuff back then.’
      • ‘I can only pray our next Prime Minister is made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘But Jeanne is made of sterner stuff than me, so head over there if you think you can bear to read the most recent developments.’
  • the sterner sex

    • archaic Men regarded collectively and in contrast to women.

      • ‘And what makes such nonessential activities seem so vital to members of the sterner sex, when their sisters are generally just as happy to forgo them?’
      • ‘To the sterner sex the mantle of virtue is no less becoming; and fidelity is as much of an adornment and requirement to them as of the gentler sex.’
      • ‘She studies the weakness of the sterner sex and is willing to take any risk with the expectation of financial or social benefit.’
      • ‘We have seen a long, rambling letter written by one of the sterner sex which contained the pith of the whole matter in the postscript.’
      • ‘Society exacts of woman minute attention to little formalities which would be excused in a man in this land, where the sterner sex are almost to a unit immersed in business or politics.’

Origin

Old English styrne, probably from the West Germanic base of the verb stare.

Pronunciation

stern

/stərn//stərn/

Main definitions of stern in US English:

: stern1stern2

stern2

noun

  • 1The rearmost part of a ship or boat.

    ‘he stood at the stern of the yacht’
    • ‘Billy was playing mini golf with a friend of his at the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘The last of the setting sun glinted on antennae, radar and spotlights as they hugged the stern of the pilot boat.’
    • ‘As was expected, Luke was found by himself at the stern of the ship, just staring away into the sky.’
    • ‘It lay in two pieces at 38m, with the bow on its starboard side and the stern lying to port.’
    • ‘The Chinese had a boat called a junk which was flat bottomed and had square bow and stern.’
    • ‘Most of the previous day had been spent constructing the elaborate cabin in the stern of the boat.’
    • ‘The docking bay, with doors at the stern of the ship, can be flooded for amphibious operations using small landing craft.’
    • ‘The stern of a ship was sticking out of the water, the rest already beneath the water's surface.’
    • ‘Allow the wind or the current to take the boat down from this anchor until there is only a little rope left (just enough to reach the bottom) and drop your second anchor off the stern.’
    • ‘A wooden dragonhead is attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern.’
    • ‘The overtaking boat should slow down when just aft the stern of the boat being overtaken and proceed around at the slowest speed possible to pass.’
    • ‘The coast guard said it found a small vessel - with three engines and three screws - inside double doors on the stern of the salvaged ship.’
    • ‘She soon found herself back at the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘He staggered slightly as he rounded the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘The towed sonar and towed decoys are launched from the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘At the stern of the ship, they had been watching this spectacle.’
    • ‘To sink the ship we created large holes so the water would slowly flow into the stern of the ship and it would gradually sink to the bottom in a vertical manner.’
    • ‘Styles stood in the stern of the boat shouting and waving his arms.’
    • ‘The subject herself was surrounded by the common aura of light to silhouette her against the stern of the ship and the shades of darkness astern.’
    • ‘With that, the duo of pirates retired to the stern of the boat.’
    rear end, rear, back, tail, poop
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1humorous A person's bottom.
      ‘my stern can't take too much sun’

Origin

Middle English: probably from Old Norse stjórn ‘steering’, from stýra ‘to steer’.

Pronunciation

stern

/stərn//stərn/