WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
stern1 /stɝn/USA pronunciation adj., -er, -est.
  1. firm, strict, or exacting:stern discipline.
  2. hard, harsh, or severe:a stern reprimand.
  3. difficult and unpleasantly serious:going through stern times.
  4. grim or forbidding in appearance:a stern expression.
stern•ly, adv.: The judge spoke sternly to the lawyer.
stern•ness, n. [uncountable]

stern2 /stɝn/USA pronunciation n. [countable]
  1. Nautical, Naval Termsthe rear part of a vessel or boat (often opposed to stemstem).
  2. the back or rear of anything.

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

stern /stɜːn/ adj
  1. showing uncompromising or inflexible resolve; firm, strict, or authoritarian
  2. lacking leniency or clemency; harsh or severe
  3. relentless; unyielding: the stern demands of parenthood
  4. having an austere or forbidding appearance or nature
Etymology: Old English styrne; related to Old High German stornēn to alarm, Latin sternāx stubborn, Greek stereos hard

ˈsternly adv ˈsternness n
stern /stɜːn/ n
  1. the rear or after part of a vessel, opposite the bow or stem
  2. the rear part of any object
  1. relating to or located at the stern
Etymology: 13th Century: from Old Norse stjōrn steering; see steer1

Stern /stɜːn/ n
  1. Isaac. 1920–2001, US concert violinist, born in (what is now) Ukraine

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