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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Se·ver·i·ty n.; pl. Severities   The quality or state of being severe. Specifically: --
 (a) Gravity or austerity; extreme strictness; rigor; harshness; as, the severity of a reprimand or a reproof; severity of discipline or government; severity of penalties. “Strict age, and sour severity.”
 (b) The quality or power of distressing or paining; extreme degree; extremity; intensity; inclemency; as, the severity of pain or anguish; the severity of cold or heat; the severity of the winter.
 (c) Harshness; cruel treatment; sharpness of punishment; as, severity practiced on prisoners of war.
 (d) Exactness; rigorousness; strictness; as, the severity of a test.
    Confining myself to the severity of truth.   --Dryden.