Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality of being austere.
  • n. Severe and rigid economy: wartime austerity.
  • n. An austere habit or practice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Severity of manners or life; extreme rigor or strictness; harsh discipline.
  • n. Freedom from adornment; plainness; severe simplicity.
  • n. A policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided.
  • n. Sourness and harshness to the taste.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Sourness and harshness to the taste.
  • n. Severity of manners or life; extreme rigor or strictness; harsh discipline.
  • n. Plainness; freedom from adornment; severe simplicity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Harshness or astringency of taste.
  • n. Severity of manner, life, etc.; rigor; strictness; harshness of treatment or demeanor.
  • n. Severe or rigorous simplicity; absence of adornment or luxury.
  • n. Severe or ascetic practices: chiefly in the plural: as, the austerities of the Flagellants.
  • n. Synonyms Self-sacrifice, Asceticism, etc. (see self-denial); sternness, harshness. See comparison under austere.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)

Etymologies

From Old French austerite ("harshness, severity"), from Latin austēritās ("harshness, sourness"). See austere. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "I consider myself well-informed, but I have no idea what the term 'austerity economics' really means."

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: Austerity for Dummies: The 3-Minute Guide to a Bad Idea

  • Canada's finance minister doesn't believe the term austerity fits for his government's upcoming budget.

    CBC | Top Stories News

  • In a country where the term "austerity" has only entered the national conversation recently and where the government's rhetoric has often been a remove from economic reality, Mr. Berlusconi's statement was notable for its tone as well as its contents.

    NYT > Home Page

  • In the five months I spent there earlier this year, I never heard the word austerity in political discussion.

    The Guardian World News

  • Without ever mentioning the word "austerity," ministers from Sarkozy's center-right government spent the weekend defending the need for fiscal vigilance amid fears of mounting debts in Western states.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • You've heard it over and over again -- the word "austerity," or the spending cuts the U.S. and Europe are supposed to make to get rid of the trillions in debt that governments took on before and during the financial crisis.

    News - chicagotribune.com

  • This brand of "austerity" is all the more notable because, in a sense, the advertising proved true: Compared to most of its European brethren and certainly to the U.S., the U.K. is embarking on one of the world's sharpest cutoffs from the recent deficit-spending explosion, which is likely to mean nearly a half-million public-sector job losses over the next five years.

    The Cuts: A Crisis Wasted

  • And as to what they enjoy in the public sphere, well, let's just say that if you take a train out of Tokyo and compare that to a train ride from New York City, you will quickly discover just how well our fiscal austerity is working for us.

    Lynn Parramore: Japanophobia: Economic Myths in the American Media

  • As these governments are defending the bankers and financiers by cutting the services and support to the working people in austerity programs, they are also cutting deficits and bailing out the banks.

    Dr. Behzad Mohit: The U.S. Tea Party and General Strikes in Europe -- The Outrage of the Middle Class

  • IMF head Christine Lagarde also said: "If the United States launches a credible middle-term adjustment program i.e., stimulus spending, there is possibly room to abandon the short-term austerity measures and to introduce some measures to drive growth."

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Super Committee "Failure" Wouldn't Hurt The Economy - But a "Success" Sure Would

Comments

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  • The Gaels were never big fans of austerity measures...

    February 22, 2009

  • "Protesters estimated to number about 100,000 have taken part in a protest in the Irish capital, Dublin, over government austerity measures. They were especially unhappy about plans to introduce a pension levy on public sector workers and freeze their pay."
    - BBC, Thousands protest in Dublin over economy, abc.net.au, 22 Feb 2009.

    February 22, 2009