ac·​me ˈak-mē How to pronounce acme (audio)
: the highest point or stage
the acme of his fame
also : something or someone that represents perfection of the thing expressed
a system that is the acme of efficiency

Did you know?

In Greek, acme meant a mountain peak, but in English we hardly ever use it in the physical sense. Instead we speak of someone's new job as the acme of her career, or of a certain leap as the acme of classical dance technique. In old Road Runner cartoons, the Acme Company is the provider of every ingenious device imaginable. But the word can't always be taken quite literally as a brand or company name; it's possible, for instance, that something called the Acme Bar & Grill may not be the absolutely highest and best example of a bar and grill. And don't confuse acme with acne, the skin disorder—even though both actually come from the same word.

Choose the Right Synonym for acme

summit, peak, pinnacle, climax, apex, acme, culmination mean the highest point attained or attainable.

summit implies the topmost level attainable.

at the summit of the Victorian social scene

peak suggests the highest among other high points.

an artist working at the peak of her powers

pinnacle suggests a dizzying and often insecure height.

the pinnacle of worldly success

climax implies the highest point in an ascending series.

the war was the climax to a series of hostile actions

apex implies the point where all ascending lines converge.

the apex of Dutch culture

acme implies a level of quality representing the perfection of a thing.

a statue that was once deemed the acme of beauty

culmination suggests the outcome of a growth or development representing an attained objective.

the culmination of years of effort

Examples of acme in a Sentence

His fame was at its acme. the acme of their basketball season was their hard-won victory over last year's state champs
Recent Examples on the Web The Iraq war, which began 20 years ago, represents the acme of American military folly—second only to the Vietnam War. Andrew J. Bacevich, Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023 This is the acme of the true fantasy—not attracting a young man with chiseled cheekbones, perfect teeth, and the ability to wear a thick cardigan on a very hot day without even a bead of sweat—but actually being noticed. Belinda Luscombe, TIME, 1 May 2024 Compared to previous off-year elections with the same types of races on the ballot, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all had their highest turnout since at least 2011, and Kentucky and Virginia came very close to matching their turnout acmes from 2019. Tia Yang, ABC News, 21 Dec. 2023 Instead, Trump best serves as a sort of touchstone for understanding McMahon’s particular vein of post-truth, and the acme of society’s larger embrace of the same. Dan Greene, The New Yorker, 31 Mar. 2023 In each case, California was held up as the acme of civilization, and Fraser as a figure who knew almost nothing, bore no ill will, and was ready to be happily surprised. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 2 Dec. 2022 In reflecting upon the Thanksgiving Day food pyramid, there is no need for discussion about what sits at the acme of this carbohydrate-laden, one-day feast. al, 20 Nov. 2022 But Bach is unique, being both a foundation and an acme. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 20 Dec. 2021 The acme of the NFT market — or the height of its delirium, depending on your point of view — is probably Beeple. New York Times, 12 May 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acme.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Greek akmḗ "point, highest point, culmination," from ak- (going back to Indo-European *h2eḱ- "pointed") + -mē, noun suffix — more at edge entry 1

First Known Use

1560, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of acme was in 1560

Dictionary Entries Near acme

Cite this Entry

“Acme.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ac·​me ˈak-mē How to pronounce acme (audio)
: the highest point : peak
the acme of perfection

Medical Definition


ac·​me ˈak-mē How to pronounce acme (audio)
: the highest or most critical point or stage (as of growth or development)

More from Merriam-Webster on acme

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