1. having a stern or solemn appearance or personality.
example: The austere clergyman was somewhat frightening to the children.
2. having nothing more than what is strictly necessary; very simple or plain.
example: The doctor put her on an austere diet.
example: Her room in the hospital was austere, and this made her appreciate the flowers even more.
3. strict or ascetic in manner of living.
example: He was suited to the austere life of a monk.
wikipedia: American Gothic, Grant Wood 1930
Word History The word “austere” originated in the Greek word “austeros,” passed into Latin as “austerus,” then into Old French and, probably in the early 1300s, entered the English language. The original Greek word meant, literally, “making the tongue dry,” from which the word developed the sense “harsh” or “severe.”