acu·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈkyü-ə-tē , 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

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 Under the bill, grants to community hospitals will be based on factors such as patient acuity and patient mix. Michael P. Norton,, "Beacon Hill lawmakers approve health care reform legislation," 20 June 2018 But brain structure alone doesn't fully account for SuperAgers' unusual mental acuity, Rogalski suggested. Judith Graham,, "An Active Social Life May Be A Secret To Brain Health," 1 June 2018 Tubman’s life story, Okoye’s words and music, and Pullum’s sublime musical and dramatic acuity united in a powerful reminder of history and affirmation of resilience. Zoë Madonna,, "Castle of our Skins celebrates music of black women," 28 May 2018 Weinzweig depicts with acuity the flanerie of those who want to kill time, as well as the strength needed to wait and the determination required of the passive. Kathleen Rooney,, "'Basic Black With Pearls' by Helen Weinzweig: A classic to revisit in this new feminist era," 23 Apr. 2018 Her Bartok was informed by her usual rhythmic acuity, a true poetic sensibility and a firm tone that held its own against Salonen’s attentive accompaniment. John Von Rhein,, "Esa-Pekka Salonen wraps up CSO residency with an intense 'Transfigured Night'," 25 May 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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Time Traveler for acuity

The first known use of acuity was circa 1549

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English Language Learners Definition of acuity

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


acu·​ity | \ ə-ˈkyü-ət-ē \
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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