noun, plural se·ver·i·ties.
- harshness, sternness, or rigor: Their lives were marked by severity.
- austere simplicity, as of style, manner, or taste: The severity of the decor was striking.
- intensity or sharpness, as of cold or pain.
- grievousness; hard or trying character or effect: The severity of his loss was finally becoming apparent.
- rigid exactness or accuracy.
- an instance of strict or severe behavior, punishment, etc.
n.late 15c., “austerity or strictness of life,” from Middle French severite, from Latin severitas “seriousness, strictness, sternness,” from severus “stern, strict, serious,” of uncertain origin. Possibly from PIE root *segh- “to have, hold” (see scheme (n.)), or possibly from *se vero “without kindness,” from se “without” (see secret) + *vero “kindness,” neuter ablative of verus “true” (see very). Meaning “strictness in dealing with others” is recorded from 1520s.