Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

severe - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective severe pronunciation in American English /sɪˈvɪr/
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    a severe problem is very serious and worrying
    Overcrowding in California schools is pretty severe.
    The reforms have caused severe economic hardship for the poorest members of the population.
    1. a.
      a severe pain, injury, or illness is serious and unpleasant
      One of the passengers had suffered severe bruising and serious cuts.
      severe stomach pain
  2. 2
    severe weather is extremely unpleasant and likely to cause harm or damage
    Severe thunderstorms are forecast for Tuesday night.
  3. 3
    very strict or extreme
    The country has come under severe criticism for its human rights record.
    The most severe penalty he could get is ten years in prison.
    1. a.
      strict and giving strong punishments when rules are not obeyed
      severe on: She was equally severe on students who were late for class.
  4. 4
    unfriendly and not smiling
    a severe expression
    Synonyms and related words
  5. 6
    needing a lot of effort, skill, or ability
    They face a severe test of character against a vastly superior team.


a meal served in the evening which consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

troll factory

a company that pays its employees to write online comments in favour or against somebody or something posing as ordinary Internet users

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog