stern1 / stərn/ • adj. (of a person or their manner) serious and unrelenting, esp. in the assertion of authority and exercise of discipline: a smile transformed his stern face Mama looked stern. ∎ (of an act or statement) strict and severe; using extreme measures or terms: stern measures to restrict growth of traffic. ∎ (of competition or opposition) putting someone or something under extreme pressure: the past year has been a stern test of the ability of local industry. PHRASES: be made of sterner stuff have a stronger character and be more able to overcome problems than others: whereas James was deeply wounded by the failure, George was made of sterner stuff. the sterner sex archaic men regarded collectively and in contrast to women.DERIVATIVES: stern·ly adv. stern·ness n. stern2 • n. the rearmost part of a ship or boat: he stood at the stern of the yacht. ∎ humorous a person's bottom: my stern can't take too much sun. DERIVATIVES: sterned / stərnd/ adj. [in comb.] a square-sterned vessel. stern·most / -ˌmōst/ adj. stern·ward / -wərd/ adv.
STERN , family of English merchant bankers and philanthropists. Originally, several brothers born in Frankfurt established banks in different European countries. david de stern (1807–1877) and his brother hermann de stern (1815–1887) founded the firm of Stern Brothers in London, a bank which was highly successful in handling loans for various governments. In 1869 the king of Portugal made David Stern a hereditary viscount (as "Viscount De Stern") and Hermann Stern a baron (as "Baron De Stern") in gratitude for such services and they added the prefix "de" to their names. David de Stern became a director of the Imperial Bank and the family bought Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole's famous Gothic mansion near London. Although they were related by marriage to such "Cousinhood" families as the Rothschilds and Goldsmids, they were never fully accepted as part of the financial aristocracy and were certainly not household names. Nevertheless, they were among the most successful English merchant bankers of their day. Hermann de Stern left an estate of £3.5 million, one of the very largest Victorian fortunes. sydney james stern, first baron wandsworth (1845–1912), elder son of David de Stern, joined the family firm, but retired early. After several unsuccessful attempts he was elected a member of Parliament for Stowmarket in 1891 and was elevated to the peerage in 1895. Stern Brothers lost its previous prominence in later years. Hermann's son herbert stern, first baron michelham (1851–1919) also became a partner in the family bank and was also made a peer, in 1905, but without having served in the House of Commons. sir edward stern (1854–1933), younger son of David, held a number of Jewish communal offices, including the presidency of the Jewish Deaf and Dumb Home. He was knighted in 1904 and received a baronetcy in 1924. By the 1920s, Stern Brothers had sadly declined as a major City merchant bank and, indeed, became something of a byword for generational decline. hermann de stern, brother of David de Stern, was a generous benefactor of Jewish charities and also held several communal offices. He was a director of the Imperial Bank, the London and San Francisco Bank, the Bank of Roumania, and the East London Waterworks Co. laura julia de stern (d. 1935), a daughter of Hermann, took part in communal work and married the inventor Sir David Lionel *Salomons. Her cousin, sir albert gerald stern (1878–1966), who was educated at Eton and Oxford, was a pioneer of tank warfare in World War i.
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[John M. Shaftesley /
William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]