Definition of stern adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//stɜːn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//stɜːrn//
    (sterner, sternest)
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  1. 1serious and often disapproving; expecting somebody to obey you synonym strict a stern face/expression/look a stern warning Her voice was stern. The police are planning sterner measures to combat crime.
  2. 2serious and difficult a stern test of nerves We face stern opposition.
  3. Word Originadjective Old English styrne, probably from the West Germanic base of the verb stare.Extra examples He quickly became notorious for his stern management. Her mother appeared, looking very stern. His voice was suddenly stern. She always seemed to have the same stern expression on her face. There was a hint of a smile on his usually rather stern face.Idioms
    be made of sterner stuff
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    to have a stronger character and to be more determined in dealing with problems than other people Many would have given up, but Tim was made of sterner stuff.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: stern

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