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

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 means "sharp point." Latin acūmen traces to the verb acuere, which means "to sharpen" and is related to acus, the Latin word for "needle." In its earliest English uses, 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 apply that ability.

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
Recent Examples on the Web With his incredible tactical acumen, Robin Hood surveys the field and begins to make a plan. Richard Malena, Popular Mechanics, 21 July 2022 There's little arguing with Pitt's business acumen and none to his devotion to winemaking. Peter Mikelbank, PEOPLE.com, 27 June 2022 The cause is dear to the award-winner, who is closely associated with business acumen. Essence, 18 Mar. 2022 Along with his scoring acumen, Lovan has ramped up his defensive pressure this season for a UAB team leading the league in steals and opponent field goal percentage. Evan Dudley, al, 16 Feb. 2022 Society still typically considers running a business to be a patriarchal thing, so when a woman exhibits traits associated with business acumen, they can be viewed to be aggressive and unnerving. Sohil Goorha, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 Ahmed scoured Harvard’s student body for potential cofounders, looking for people with technological acumen. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Sep. 2021 Porter and a lot of young guys like him come in the league with no defensive acumen. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2021 With their combination of technical and sales acumen and their proximity to the buyer, presales is poised and ready to spearhead the transformation of the buyer experience. Matt Darrow, Forbes, 2 June 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of acumen was circa 1579

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Dictionary Entries Near acumen

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acumen

acuminate

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acumen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acumen. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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