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acumen

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noun acu·men \ə-ˈkyü-mən, ˈa-kyə-mən\

Simple Definition of acumen

  • : the ability to think clearly and make good decisions

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of acumen

  1. :  keenness and depth of perception, discernment, or discrimination especially in practical matters

Examples of acumen in a sentence

  1. And perhaps this is just part of Washington's transition into the new economy: the triumph of national brands over local loyalty, of business acumen over upper Northwest idealism. —Franklin Foer, New Republic, 7 Feb. 2000

  2. … the historical acumen, the steady shrewdness, and the uncommon common sense with which the old maestro watches the American procession of similar problems faced by dissimilar egos. —Alistair Cooke, New Yorker, 9 Feb. 1987

  3. Here was a man of extraordinary sensitivity, political acumen, spiritual power, and sexual wildness; a free spirit if ever there was one. —Alice Walker, Living by the Word, 1986

  4. Her political acumen won her the election.

  5. a lack of business acumen



Did You Know?

A keen mind and a sharp wit can pierce the soul as easily as a needle passes through cloth. Remember the analogy between a jabbing needle and piercing perception, and you will readily recall the history of acumen. Our English word retains the spelling and figurative meaning of its direct Latin ancestor, a term that literally meant "point." Latin acumen traces to the verb acuere, which means "to sharpen" and derives from acus, the Latin word for "needle." In its first known English uses in the 1500s, acumen referred specifically to a sharpness of wit. In modern English, it conveys the sense that someone is perceptive enough to grasp a situation quickly and clever enough to use it.

Origin and Etymology of acumen

Latin acumin-, acumen, literally, point, from acuere


First Known Use: circa 1579

Synonym Discussion of acumen

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) <the discernment to know true friends>. discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent <the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music>. perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling) <a novelist of keen perception into human motives>. penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial <lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles>. insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy <a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless>. acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment <a director of reliable box-office acumen>.


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