“Unlike his friend, luxury Lou, austere Austin dressed plainly and refrained from partaking in hard alcohol. He showed steadfast austerity, usually limiting himself to a few glasses of water, or maybe an occasional glass of wine.”

As shown above, what is the best definition of austerity?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Rudeness and judgmental behavior
Choice B - Intense strictness and self-denial
Choice C - Unfriendliness or disagreeability
Choice D - The quality of being a good listener


Austerity (noun) – the characteristic of intense strictness and self-denial (especially of worldly pleasures); a simple and plain manner or style; or, extreme frugality

Austere (adjective) – characterized by austerity; severe in manner

GRE pro tips:

You may have heard the term “austerity measures” in an economics class, referring to strict governmental actions put in place during an economic crisis. The goal of such measures is to curtail spending, especially on things that are not essential. However, the word austerity is also used more broadly to describe a state of severe self-denial, especially through the restriction of worldly pleasures. An austere person is simple and unadorned—in both manner and style. Nuns and monks are austere people: they leave mainstream society for austere lives of service and self-denial or prayer and contemplation. But regular people can be austere, too. You may also enact austerity in your own life—like, after graduation, when living on a graduate student stipend.

Example sentences:

“Her roommates always had cash to spend on new clothes but—when it came time to pay the rent—they were suddenly penniless; she knew that austerity measures were in order.”

“While others struggled to complete the three-day fast, the professional cyclist had no problem—his austere training and diet regimen prepared him for the challenge.”