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adjective \ə-ˈkyüt\

Simple Definition of acute

  • : very serious or dangerous : requiring serious attention or action

  • : having or showing an ability to think clearly and to understand what is not obvious or simple about something

  • : very strong and sensitive : highly developed

Full Definition of acute


  1. 1 a (1) :  characterized by sharpness or severity <acute pain> (2) :  having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course <acute disease> (3) :  being, providing, or requiring short-term medical care (as for serious illness or traumatic injury) <acute hospitals> <an acute patient> b :  lasting a short time <acute experiments>

  2. 2 :  ending in a sharp point: as a :  being or forming an angle measuring less than 90 degrees <an acute angle> b :  composed of acute angles <an acute triangle>

  3. 3 a of an accent mark :  having the form ´ b :  marked with an acute accent c :  of the variety indicated by an acute accent

  4. 4 a :  marked by keen discernment or intellectual perception especially of subtle distinctions <an acute thinker> b :  responsive to slight impressions or stimuli <acute hearing>

  5. 5 :  felt, perceived, or experienced intensely <acute distress>

  6. 6 :  demanding urgent attention <an acute emergency>

acute·ly adverb
acute·ness noun

Examples of acute

  1. an acute sense of humor

  2. It's a politically acute film that does not oversimplify the issues.

Origin of acute

Middle English, from Latin acutus, past participle of acuere to sharpen, from acus needle; akin to Latin acer sharp — more at edge

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of acute

acute, critical, crucial mean of uncertain outcome. acute stresses intensification of conditions leading to a culmination or breaking point <an acute housing shortage>. critical adds to acute implications of imminent change, of attendant suspense, and of decisiveness in the outcome <the war has entered a critical phase>. crucial suggests a dividing of the ways and often a test or trial involving the determination of a future course or direction <a crucial vote>.

synonyms see in addition sharp

Medical Dictionary


adjective \ə-ˈkyüt\

Medical Definition of acute

  1. 1:  sensing or perceiving accurately, clearly, effectively, or sensitively <acute vision>

  2. 2a:  characterized by sharpness or severity <acute pain> <an acute infection>b:  having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course <an acute disease> <an acute inflammation>—compare chronic 2a:  acute care <an acute hospital>c:  lasting a short time <acute experiments>

  3. acute·ly adverb
    acute·ness noun

Seen and Heard

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February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

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