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 Upon Bryant’s death, Colangelo felt that concern become more acute. Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times, "Kobe Bryant leads Hall of Fame finalists during somber day," 14 Feb. 2020 Colliers International, a global investment adviser, reported last fall that inpatient rehab facilities now represent the fastest-growing part of the post-acute care segment. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Baptist Health will expand its rehab hospital footprint with $43M facility in J-town," 3 Feb. 2020 Led by Chief Delatorre, the NYPD is now applying fresh measures to address the thorny issue of homelessness in the New York City subway, a persistent dilemma that has grown more acute as the city’s homeless population has ballooned. Ben Chapman, WSJ, "NYPD Transit Chief Says Homeless Outreach Working in Subway," 30 Jan. 2020 People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be instinctive, acute and alert, which makes them exceptional in business. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: New employee put out by menial task requests," 25 Jan. 2020 The onset of the Great Depression hastened Prohibition's demise, as the need for more jobs and tax revenue became acute. David Crary, Anchorage Daily News, "Prohibition began 100 years ago, and its legacy remains," 15 Jan. 2020 This equates to an extra 12,216 days in the hospital, $31 million in inpatient and post-acute care costs, and $2.5 billion in value of life every year, the study found. Jen Christensen, CNN, "More reasons air pollution will send you to the hospital," 27 Nov. 2019 The Cambridge biotech’s new drug is called givosiran and treats a condition called acute hepatic porphyria. BostonGlobe.com, "FDA approves Alnylam drug for rare genetic disorder - The Boston Globe," 21 Nov. 2019 The medicine is intended to treat a rare genetic condition called acute hepatic porphyria that can cause attacks of severe abdominal pain. Kate Sheridan, STAT, "FDA approves Alnylam’s Givlaari, second-ever drug based on RNAi," 20 Nov. 2019

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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Acute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acute. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for acute

acute

adjective
How to pronounce acute (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acute

Spanish Central: Translation of acute

Nglish: Translation of acute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acute for Arabic Speakers

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