acu·​punc·​ture | \-ˌpəŋ(k)-chər \

Definition of acupuncture 

: an originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease or relieve pain (as in surgery)

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Other Words from acupuncture

acupuncture transitive verb
acupuncturist \ -​ˌpəŋ(k)-​chə-​rist \ noun

Did You Know?

In Latin, acus means "needle", and the English word acupuncture was coined way back in the 17th century to describe a technique the Chinese had already been using for 2,000 years. An acupuncturist may insert many extremely fine needles at a time; the treatment is usually uncomfortable but not truly painful. In China today, even major surgery is often carried out using only acupuncture to kill the pain; it's also used for many other conditions, including insomnia, depression, smoking, and overweight. Acupuncture is based on ancient theories of bodily energy that few Western doctors have ever accepted; but even though attempts to explain its effects by Western science have been unsuccessful, it's now widely recognized by doctors as effective for pain reduction.

Examples of acupuncture in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Lastly, insurance companies typically do not reimburse or reimburse poorly for effective non-opioid therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, and non-opioid medications. Sandy Bauers,, "Can we relieve suffering, avoid drug misuse - and not become 'opioid phobic'?," 15 June 2018 As part of the program, groups of eight to 12 veterans from across the country receive more than 100 hours of treatment, including behavioral therapy, yoga, art therapy and acupuncture. Lisa Schencker,, "Rush to receive $45 million, its largest single donation ever, to help veterans with PTSD," 5 June 2018 Alternative treatments like acupuncture may be recommended. Samantha Saltz, M.d., miamiherald, "Few discuss the emotional toll of struggling to conceive a child," 30 May 2018 And anyone undergoing bee sting acupuncture could become sensitized to the venom at any time. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Live bee sting acupuncture is deadly for Madrid woman," 22 Mar. 2018 The heat should prompt muscles to relax further, enhancing the effects of acupuncture. Abigail Barronian, Outside Online, "Traditional Chinese Medicine Holds the Secret to Heath," 1 June 2018 The number of people choosing to treat chronic pain with acupuncture instead of opioids is growing. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, "How Northville acupuncturist is fighting back after husband's overdose death," 25 June 2018 Like many athletes, Spitty has acupuncture appointments. Christopher Solomon, Outside Online, "This Whippet Is One of the World's Great Athletes," 18 June 2018 Remember when alternative health care for your pet meant acupuncture or chiropractic? Peter Haldeman, New York Times, "The Secret Price of Pets," 4 July 2018

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

1684, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acupuncture

Latin acū- (stem—or ablative—of acus "needle") + puncture entry 1 — more at acute

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Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for acupuncture

The first known use of acupuncture was in 1684

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English Language Learners Definition of acupuncture

: a method of relieving pain or curing illness by placing needles into a person's skin at particular points on the body


acu·​punc·​ture | \-ˌpəŋ(k)-chər \

Medical Definition of acupuncture 

: an originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease, relieve pain, or promote healing

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