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From Ancient Greek αὐστηρότης (austērótēs, bitter, harsh).

Morphologically austere +‎ -ity


  • (US) IPA(key): /ɔˈstɛɹɪti/, enPR: ôstĕr′ǐtē
  • (file)


austerity (countable and uncountable, plural austerities)

  1. Severity of manners or life; extreme rigor or strictness; harsh discipline.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 23, in The History of Pendennis. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      The most rigid and noted of the English ladies resident in the French capital acknowledged and countenanced her; the virtuous Lady Elderbury, the severe Lady Rockminster, the venerable Countess of Southdown—people, in a word, renowned for austerity, and of quite a dazzling moral purity:—so great and beneficent an influence had the possession of ten (some said twenty) thousand a year exercised upon Lady Clavering’s character and reputation
  2. Freedom from adornment; plainness; severe simplicity.
    • 2021 October 20, Dr Joseph Brennan, “A key part of our diverse railway heritage”, in RAIL, number 942, page 56:
      The war-torn first half of the 20th century, together with the railway grouping of 1923, ushered in further austerity in design.
  3. (economics) A policy of deficit-cutting, which by definition requires lower spending, higher taxes, or both.
    • 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in the Guardian[1]:
      He said France clearly wanted to "close one page and open another". He reiterated his opposition to austerity alone as the only way out of Europe's crisis: "My final duty, and I know I'm being watched from beyond our borders, is to put Europe back on the path of growth and employment."
  4. (obsolete) Sourness and harshness to the taste.


  • (severity of manners or life): comfort

Related terms[edit]


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Unadapted borrowing from English austerity.


austerity f (invariable)

  1. austerity