These adjectives mean unsparing and exacting with respect to discipline or control. Severe implies adherence to rigorous standards or high principles and often suggests harshness: “Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works” (John Keats). Stern suggests unyielding disposition, uncompromising resolution, or forbidding appearance or nature: “a man fatally stern and implacable” (George Meredith). Austere connotes aloofness or lack of feeling or sympathy, and often rigid morality: Austere officers demand meticulous conformity with military regulations.Ascetic suggests self-discipline and often renunciation of worldly pleasures for spiritual improvement: “Be systematically ascetic … do … something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it” (William James). Strict means requiring or showing stringent observance of obligations, rules, or standards: “He could not be severe nor even passably strict” (W.H. Hudson).
It is unusually hard, owing to the recent severe but transient cold, and all watered or waved like a palace floor.
Avicenna himself was at this season stricken down by a severe illness.
Natasha was calm, though a severe and grave expression had again settled on her face.
Towards the end of the century, Charlemagne, himself a Netherlander by descent and ancestral possessions, after a severe struggle, thoroughly subdued the Frisians and Saxons, and compelled them to embrace Christianity.