acu·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈkyü-ə-tē How to pronounce acuity (audio) , a-\
plural acuities

Definition of acuity

: keenness of perception hearing acuity mental acuity

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Do you have acuity or sensitivity?

Acuity is nearly synonymous with at least one sense of sensitivity, yet, as is so often the case with closely-related words, there are subtle differences worth observing before you substitute one of these words for the other. Acuity does refer to a form of sensitivity, but it is most often applied to the perceptual senses (as in “visual acuity” or “auditory acuity”). It is also frequently used in reference to the intellect (as in “mental acuity”). Sensitivity has a broader range of meanings than acuity does, including “the capacity of being easily hurt.” It may be used of inanimate objects such as radios (“the sensitivity of the instruments was carefully calibrated”), a context in which acuity is unusual.

Examples of acuity in a Sentence

a worrisome deterioration in the acuity of his hearing over the years

Recent Examples on the Web

Stephenson packed so much thematic, timbral and textural information into these movements that Vernon’s statements sounded small by comparison, notwithstanding his technical acuity, resplendent low notes and gorgeous, golden-toned lyricism. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Orchestra's soloists step into the spotlight," 14 June 2019 The come-up, getting to it, making a way where there was no way—that’s what a hustler says, and there’s no higher feeling than that ascent, than that time in their maturation that most demands acuity, prudence, discretion, discipline, thrift. Mitchell S. Jackson, Harper's magazine, "Opportunity Cost," 10 Feb. 2019 Meanwhile, the two daughters have their own anguish to deal with, all pricked out by Ms. Hadley with her characteristic acuity. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Late in the Day’ Review: And Then They Were Three," 11 Jan. 2019 That brilliance loses some of its acuity as the episodes progress; the intrigue becomes so dizzyingly complex that the control of the early episodes is somewhat wasted. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Bodyguard Is the Best Political Thriller Since Homeland," 24 Oct. 2018 The White House meeting itself was extraordinary, an extended negotiating session that was broadcast by the news channels at a time when questions about Mr. Trump’s mental acuity and fitness for his job have been dominating the headlines. Julie Hirschfeld Davis And Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, "Trump Appears to Endorse Path to Citizenship for Millions of Immigrants," 9 Jan. 2018 Half the sample averaged less than 6.4 hours of sleep a night—a pattern that was associated with impaired problem-solving, reasoning and verbal acuity. Susan Pinker, WSJ, "When It Comes to Sleep, One Size Fits All," 25 Oct. 2018 And to Timberland for having the acuity to sign you up. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Timberland’s First-Ever Creative Director, Christopher Raeburn, Talks," 25 Oct. 2018 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye contributes half a dozen fictional portraits with, as usual, psychological acuity but overly hasty brushwork. Jason Farago, New York Times, "At the Berlin Biennale, the Art of Saying ‘No’," 12 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acuity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of acuity

circa 1549, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acuity

Middle English acuite "sharpness, acridity," borrowed from Middle French acuité, borrowed from Medieval Latin acuitāt-, acuitās, from Latin acu-, stem of acuere "to sharpen" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at acute

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Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for acuity

The first known use of acuity was circa 1549

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More Definitions for acuity



English Language Learners Definition of acuity

formal : the ability to see, hear, or understand something easily


acu·​ity | \ ə-ˈkyü-ət-ē How to pronounce acuity (audio) \
plural acuities

Medical Definition of acuity

: keenness of sense perception acuity of hearing — see visual acuity

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More from Merriam-Webster on acuity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acuity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acuity

Nglish: Translation of acuity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acuity for Arabic Speakers

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