rigorous or austere; of an unpleasantly serious character:stern times.
grim or forbidding in aspect:a stern face.
bef. 1000; Middle English; Old English styrne
1, 2.See corresponding entry in Unabridged adamant, unrelenting, unsympathetic, cruel, unfeeling. Stern,severe,harsh agree in referring to methods, aspects, manners, or facial expressions. Stern implies uncompromising, inflexible firmness, and sometimes a hard, forbidding, or withdrawn aspect or nature:a stern parent.Severe implies strictness, lack of sympathy, and a tendency to impose a hard discipline on others:a severe judge.Harsh suggests a great severity and roughness, and cruel, unfeeling treatment of others:a harsh critic.
1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged lenient.
Nautical, Naval Termsthe after part of a vessel (often opposed to stem).
the back or rear of anything.
Astronomy(cap.) the constellation Puppis.
Sport[Fox Hunting.]the tail of a hound.
Old Norse stjōrn steering (done aft; see sternpost)
Middle English sterne, probably 1250–1300
BiographicalIsaac, born 1920, U.S. violinist, born in Russia.
BiographicalOtto, 1888–1969, U.S. physicist, born in Germany: Nobel prize 1943.