Having a certain hardness or severity of nature, manner, or aspect; hard; severe; rigid; rigorous; austere; fixed; unchanging; unrelenting; hence, serious; resolute; harsh; as, a sternresolve; a stern necessity; a stern heart; a stern gaze; a stern decree. The sterne wind so loud gan to rout. (Chaucer) I would outstare the sternest eyes that look. (Shak) When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. (Shak) Stern as tutors, and as uncles hard. (Dryden) These barren rocks, your stern inheritance. (Wordsworth)
Synonym: gloomy, sullen, forbidding, strict, unkind, hard-hearted, unfeeling, cruel, pitiless.
Origin: OE. Sterne, sturne, AS. Styrne; cf. D. Stuurish stern, Sw. Stursk refractory. 166.
being in the stern, or being astern; as, the stern davits. Stern board, that part of an open boat which is between the stern and the aftmost seat of the rowers, usually furnished with seats for passengers. Stern wheel, a paddle wheel attached to the stern of the steamboat which it propels.
(Science: ornithology) The black tern.
Origin: AS. Stearn a kind of bird. See Starling.