acute

play
adjective \ə-ˈkyüt\

Definition of acute

acuter

;

acutest

  1. 1a (1) :  characterized by sharpness or severity acute pain (2) :  having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course acute disease (3) :  being, providing, or requiring short-term medical care (as for serious illness or traumatic injury) acute hospitals an acute patientb :  lasting a short time acute experiments

  2. 2 :  ending in a sharp point: such asa :  being or forming an angle measuring less than 90 degrees an acute angleb :  composed of acute angles an acute triangle

  3. 3a of an accent mark :  having the form ´b :  marked with an acute accentc :  of the variety indicated by an acute accent

  4. 4a :  marked by keen discernment or intellectual perception especially of subtle distinctions an acute thinkerb :  responsive to slight impressions or stimuli acute hearing

  5. 5 :  felt, perceived, or experienced intensely acute distress

  6. 6 :  demanding urgent attention an acute emergency

acutely

adverb

acuteness

noun

Examples of acute in a Sentence

  1. an acute sense of humor

  2. It's a politically acute film that does not oversimplify the issues.

Recent Examples of acute from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology of acute

Middle English, from Latin acutus, past participle of acuere to sharpen, from acus needle; akin to Latin acer sharp — more at edge

Synonym Discussion of 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


ACUTE Defined for English Language Learners

acute

play
adjective

Definition of acute for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

acute

play
adjective \ə-ˈkyüt\

Definition of acute for Students

acuter

;

acutest

  1. 1 :  measuring less than 90 degrees acute angles

  2. 2 :  marked by or showing an ability to understand things that are not obvious an acute observation

  3. 3 :  severe, sharp acute pain

  4. 4 :  developing quickly and lasting only a short time acute illness

  5. 5 :  critical 4, urgent an acute shortage of food

  6. 6 :  very strong and sensitive an acute sense of smell

acutely

adverb

acuteness

noun

Medical Dictionary

acute

play
adjective \ə-ˈkyüt\

Medical Definition of acute

  1. 1:  sensing or perceiving accurately, clearly, effectively, or sensitively acute vision

  2. 2a:  characterized by sharpness or severity of sudden onset acute pain brought on by injury an acute infectionb (1):  having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course acute illness an acute inflammation—compare chronic 2a (2):  acute care an acute hospitalc:  lasting a short time acute experiments

acutely

adverb

acuteness

noun


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up acute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to state as an opinion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!