(comparative sterner, superlative sternest)
- Having a hardness and severity of nature or manner.
- Grim and forbidding in appearance.
From Middle English stern, sterne, sturne, from Old English styrne (“stern, grave, strict, austere, hard, severe, cruel"), from Proto-Germanic *sturnijaz (“angry, astonished, shocked"), from Proto-Indo-European *ster-, *ter- (“rigid, stiff"). Cognate with Scots stern (“bold, courageous, fierce, resolute"), Old High German stornÄ“n (“to be astonished"), Dutch stuurs (“glum, austere"), Swedish stursk (“insolent").
Most likely from Old Norse stjÃ³rn (“control, steering"), related to stÃ½ra (“to steer"), from Proto-Germanic *stiurijanÄ…, whence also English steer. Also possibly from Old Frisian stiarne (“rudder"), from the same Germanic root.