acute

adjective
\ ə-ˈkyüt How to pronounce acute (audio) \
acuter; acutest

Definition of acute

1a(1) : characterized by sharpness or severity of sudden onset acute pain
(2) : having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course acute illness
(3) : being, providing, or requiring short-term medical care (as for serious illness or traumatic injury) acute hospitals an acute patient
b : lasting a short time acute experiments
2 : ending in a sharp point: such as
a : being or forming an angle measuring less than 90 degrees an acute angle
b : composed of acute angles an acute triangle
3a of an accent mark : having the form ´
b : marked with an acute accent
c : of the variety indicated by an acute accent
4a : marked by keen discernment or intellectual perception especially of subtle distinctions an acute thinker
b : responsive to slight impressions or stimuli acute hearing
5 : felt, perceived, or experienced intensely acute distress
6 : demanding urgent attention an acute emergency

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Other Words from acute

acutely adverb
acuteness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for acute

acute, critical, crucial mean of uncertain outcome. acute stresses intensification of conditions leading to a culmination or breaking point. an acute housing shortage critical adds to acute implications of imminent change, of attendant suspense, and of decisiveness in the outcome. the war has entered a critical phase crucial suggests a dividing of the ways and often a test or trial involving the determination of a future course or direction. a crucial vote

synonyms see in addition sharp

Ways to Be Acute

For such a short and simple-looking word, acute has a rather bewildering range of meanings. It first entered the English language with a medical sense, referring to the sharpness or severity of a symptom. It retains this meaning today, but can also refer to the severity of more general matters, such as "acute embarrassment" or "an acute shortage."

Acute is also frequently used to describe less troublesome matters, such as keenness of perception ("an acute observer" or "an acute sense of smell"), a type of angle (one measuring less than 90 degrees), or the demand for urgent attention ("acute danger").

Examples of acute in a Sentence

an acute sense of humor It's a politically acute film that does not oversimplify the issues.
Recent Examples on the Web Their numbers go well beyond the minority of patients who were put on ventilators, or who nearly died because their immune systems overreacted to acute infection. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: The virulence of anti-Asian hate," 26 Mar. 2021 Unlike with an acute COVID-19 infection, the lungs do not tend to be as involved when a child develops MIS-C, Bhumbra said. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, "Doctors thought the teen had appendicitis. Instead, he had a rare COVID complication.," 22 Mar. 2021 Together, the National Institutes of Health is referring to the maladies collectively as post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, or simply long COVID. al, "What is long COVID? UAB’s Dr. Michael Saag says some patients suffer for months," 31 Dec. 2020 Together, the National Institutes of Health is referring to the maladies collectively as post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, or simply long COVID. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, "Fatigue, loss of smell, organ damage: A range of symptoms plague many Marylanders long after COVID-19 infection," 30 Dec. 2020 Severe acute respiratory syndrome had emerged in 2003. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "A gamble pays off in ‘spectacular success’: How the leading coronavirus vaccines made it to the finish line," 6 Dec. 2020 Its potential against coronaviruses including Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) remained strong. Washington Post, "Remdesivir may not cure coronavirus, but it’s on track to make billions for Gilead," 30 Sep. 2020 Sometimes, severe pain among people with sickle cell disease is associated with a condition called acute chest syndrome, a pneumonia-like illness. NBC News, "Throughout pandemic, sickle cell patients suffer quietly at home," 28 Sep. 2020 Covid infections have triggered acute chest syndrome in some sickle cell patients. Usha Lee Mcfarling, STAT, "Millions of Americans carry the sickle cell trait, many without knowing it. Could they be at risk for severe Covid-19?," 3 Sep. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for acute

Middle English, borrowed from Latin acūtus "sharpened, pointed, having a violent onset, discerning, less than 90 degrees (of an angle)," from past participle of acuere "to sharpen, rouse, stimulate," probably derived from an otherwise unattested adjective stem acū- "sharp"; akin to acū-, acus "needle," a perhaps independently derived noun; further akin to Old Church Slavic osŭtŭ "thistle," Lithuanian ãšutas "hair of a horse's tail or mane"; all going back to the Indo-European base *h2eḱ- "sharp" — more at edge entry 1

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Time Traveler for acute

Time Traveler

The first known use of acute was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acute. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for acute

acute

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of acute

: very serious or dangerous : requiring serious attention or action
: having or showing an ability to think clearly and to understand what is not obvious or simple about something
: very strong and sensitive : highly developed

acute

adjective
\ ə-ˈkyüt How to pronounce acute (audio) \
acuter; acutest

Kids Definition of acute

1 : measuring less than 90 degrees acute angles
2 : marked by or showing an ability to understand things that are not obvious an acute observation
3 : severe, sharp acute pain
4 : developing quickly and lasting only a short time acute illness
5 : critical sense 4, urgent an acute shortage of food
6 : very strong and sensitive an acute sense of smell

Other Words from acute

acutely adverb
acuteness noun

acute

adjective
\ ə-ˈkyüt How to pronounce acute (audio) \

Medical Definition of acute

1 : sensing or perceiving accurately, clearly, effectively, or sensitively acute vision
2a : characterized by sharpness or severity of sudden onset acute pain brought on by injury an acute infection
b(1) : having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course acute illness an acute inflammation — compare chronic entry 1 sense 2a
(2) : acute care an acute hospital
c : lasting a short time acute experiments

Other Words from acute

acutely adverb
acuteness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on acute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acute

Nglish: Translation of acute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on acute

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