acumen

noun
acu·​men | \ ˈa-kyü-mən How to pronounce acumen (audio) , ə-ˈkyü-mən How to pronounce acumen (audio) \

Definition of acumen

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

How did acumen evolve?

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.

Examples of acumen in a Sentence

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 … 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 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 Her political acumen won her the election. a lack of business acumen
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Recent Examples on the Web Interestingly, the ‘empire’ or business-building acumen is accelerating as a result of our commitment to empathy. Soon Yu, Forbes, 1 June 2021 What a blend of technical precision (the Eastern Pennsylvania accent, the hobbling-around after a spill during an Episode 1 chase) and emotional acumen. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, 1 June 2021 Jost marveled at President Joe Biden's acumen behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 Lighting electric prototype this week. NBC News, 23 May 2021 Van Doren's son, Steve Van Doren, said his father's acumen helped make the business a success. Robert Jablon, USA TODAY, 8 May 2021 Van Doren's son, Steve Van Doren, said his father's acumen helped make the business a success. Robert Jablon, ajc, 8 May 2021 Van Doren's son, Steve Van Doren, said his father's acumen helped make the business a success. Robert Jablon, Star Tribune, 7 May 2021 Jones, who’s known for his accuracy and high football acumen. cleveland, 26 Apr. 2021 Arnolt's feisty personality and sports acumen fit perfectly in a world where the prize was a championship belt, but personal storylines were woven beneath. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, 19 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acumen.' 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 acumen

circa 1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acumen

borrowed from Latin acūmen "sharp point, stinger, acuteness of mind," from acū-, stem of acuere "to sharpen" + -men, resultative noun suffix — more at acute

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Time Traveler for acumen

Time Traveler

The first known use of acumen was circa 1579

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Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acumen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acumen. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for acumen

acumen

noun

English Language Learners Definition of acumen

: the ability to think clearly and make good decisions

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