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’
    • ‘Her mother was a good cook and her father wasn't the stern disciplinarian he expected.’
    • ‘At first her face was stern, and she stared intensely at Sadie.’
    • ‘She wiped her hands on her once-white apron before putting them on her hips in a stern manner.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She spoke as quietly as her brother, but her voice was more stern.’
    • ‘He got up on his knees and put on a jokingly stern face.’
    • ‘His voice was more stern than I remembered.’
    • ‘The middle-aged woman was very stern, and often unaware of her tedious lectures.’
    • ‘He was my mother's favorite brother and our least favorite Uncle; he was too stern, too serious, too strict.’
    • ‘But she was stern in demeanor and normally carried a serious face.’
    • ‘Ever wonder why I seem to be so stern half the time?’
    • ‘Adam's relaxed yet stern expression was deeply unsettling.’
    • ‘For those who expect a stern teacher and a serious photographer, he is a bundle of surprise.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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 tall and his face is stern; his clothing is simple and unadorned.’
    • ‘But, behind a somewhat stern exterior, Brian was a modest and very likeable man.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All are stern judges and they expect others to be as serious about everything as they are.’
    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’
      • ‘He was met with a steely glare and a stern reply: ‘Do you think popping a balloon is funny?’’
      • ‘A police spokesperson said they were given a stern warning and released.’
      • ‘Today's briefing, she said, will be used to convey a stern warning to employers that such discrimination was unlawful.’
      • ‘We were released with a very stern warning about controlled substances, but no charges were laid.’
      • ‘I did not physically punish them; a stern rebuke was effective enough.’
      • ‘Penalties range from a stern warning to fines to lawsuits.’
      • ‘We had stern orders not to try to move and play our instruments at the same time.’
      • ‘She had some stern advice for those attending the performance.’
      • ‘But her stern directives made officials step on the gas.’
      • ‘His stern objection to secret loans has struck a hard and unexpected blow.’
      • ‘He still spoke in his cool voice but it was a stern statement.’
      • ‘I offer my wholehearted congratulations to Garrett - and a stern warning, too.’
      • ‘These episodes were unpredictable yet frequent enough to elicit a stern warning from her job supervisor.’
      • ‘A vote of censure, with a stern warning attached, ought to suffice.’
      • ‘It has been praised by the regional water watchdog for what it is doing while others have come in for stern criticism.’
      • ‘After 50 minutes of stern questions and answers - the length of a typical undergraduate class - the interrogation is over.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I've delivered her a stern rebuke and promised I'll be back to conduct regular inspections.’
      • ‘And they have issued a stern warning to those responsible: Stop before somebody dies.’
      • ‘Now despite that quite stern warning, the gate's wide open and absolutely anybody could wander in if they wanted to.’
      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’
      • ‘Instead of creating the platform for a stern challenge, however, it was to be their final score of the half.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Leitrim did provide stern opposition for long periods, but Sligo's superior skill and fitness levels ensured that they prevailed in the end.’
      • ‘Fort William, meanwhile, have given notice that they will offer a stern challenge to all comers in the months ahead.’
      • ‘Troublemakers who create a nuisance at Lancaster bus station are to face stern new opposition.’
      • ‘The loss leaves a huge and widening gap between York and league safety with some very stern tests coming shortly.’
      • ‘Fifth-placed Eccleshill, with one defeat in four, will provide a stern test tomorrow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This Friday they face a stern test when they travel to play Carlow outfit Killeen.’
      • ‘Harrogate initially applied stern pressure in the afternoon singles, but the York lads countered strongly to take command.’
      • ‘It was not long before the new military organisation was exposed to the stern test of war.’
      • ‘That would be an excellent achievement but we know that Dublin pose a very stern test.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Only bitter rivals New Zealand provide stern opposition, but recently the Aussies have been getting the better of these encounters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After thirty-four minutes, Ballina's stern pressure paid off.’
      • ‘It was expected to be a stern test, and over the 80 minutes it proved to be just that.’
      • ‘South Grafton will be facing a stern test on Sunday when they face Casino at home.’
      • ‘We thought this would be a stern challenge, even sterner than the Lions games.’

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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Not a good sign, to be sure, but the rest of us were 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.’
      • ‘I can only pray our next Prime Minister is made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘Livy kept fidgeting, and I knew she was dying to talk about Haley, but Noelle was made of sterner stuff.’
      • ‘To him disappointment means little, he is 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.’
      • ‘Thankfully, our medieval forbears were made of sterner stuff.’
  • 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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘A wooden dragonhead is attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern.’
    • ‘The docking bay, with doors at the stern of the ship, can be flooded for amphibious operations using small landing craft.’
    • ‘Billy was playing mini golf with a friend of his at the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘As was expected, Luke was found by himself at the stern of the ship, just staring away into the sky.’
    • ‘She soon found herself back at the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘Most of the previous day had been spent constructing the elaborate cabin in the stern of the boat.’
    • ‘The Chinese had a boat called a junk which was flat bottomed and had square bow and stern.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the stern of the ship, they had been watching this spectacle.’
    • ‘He staggered slightly as he rounded the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 towed sonar and towed decoys are launched from the stern of the ship.’
    • ‘With that, the duo of pirates retired to the stern of the boat.’
    • ‘It lay in two pieces at 38m, with the bow on its starboard side and the stern lying to port.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Styles stood in the stern of the boat shouting and waving his arms.’
    • ‘The last of the setting sun glinted on antennae, radar and spotlights as they hugged the stern of the pilot boat.’
    • ‘The stern of a ship was sticking out of the water, the rest already beneath the water's surface.’
    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/