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

Jane Campion, director of The Piano and other films known for their acute and sensitive portraits of female psychology, has created a heroine with unusual depth and complexity. Newsweek, "Amazing Photos of Bioluminescent Phytoplankton," 14 Mar. 2018 Five of the last seven Pfizer cancer drugs were approved at an accelerated pace, without a late-stage trial, including Daurismo for acute myeloid leukemia in November. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, "Pfizer Pivots to Cancer Drugs for Growth," 27 Jan. 2019 The cause was acute myeloid leukemia, her daughter Julia Griffin said. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Miriam Griffin, Who Put Nero in a New Light, Dies at 82," 1 July 2018 In the industrialized world, roughly 1 in 2,000 children will develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia before the age of 15. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "New 'unified theory' of childhood leukemia raises possibility of preventing the disease," 23 May 2018 After undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia, the 88-year-old opted to undergo the transplant in September, 2017, at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix. Terry Tang, The Seattle Times, "Stem cell transplant cements Arizona men’s father-son bond," 10 Sep. 2018 Some patients will develop severe respiratory problems, including pneumonia or acute respiratory distress that would require mechanical assistance to breathe. Susan Scutti, CNN, "What you need to know about lethal Nipah virus," 23 May 2018 Only four of the state’s 27 acute care hospitals have sickle cell treatment programs. courant.com, "Sickle Cell Patients Suffer As Disparities In Care, Research Persist," 11 May 2018 But in the end, Martin Luther King, Jr. is an acute care hospital, not a psychiatric one. NBC News, "Psychiatrist stays close to home and true to her childhood promise," 4 Apr. 2018

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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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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