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 Carmakers hoping for relief from the acute global chip shortage may have to wait until 2023 before things return to normal, German semiconductor supplier Infineon warned on Tuesday. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "Sit tight, chip shortage likely to last to 2023, says top supplier to auto industry," 4 May 2021 India is experiencing an acute shortage of testing kits. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, "US senators are urging Joe Biden to use military resources to help India," 29 Apr. 2021 The surge has brought pain and desperation to millions of families across the country, many of whom are using Twitter in a bid to secure hospital beds and ventilators, as hospitals deal with an acute shortage of health care. NBC News, "Anger grows as India orders Twitter to remove posts critical of Modi government's Covid response," 26 Apr. 2021 The doctors blamed the deaths on the city’s acute oxygen shortage. BostonGlobe.com, "As COVID-19 devastates India, deaths go undercounted," 24 Apr. 2021 The doctors blamed the deaths on the city’s acute oxygen shortage. New York Times, "As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted," 24 Apr. 2021 In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, the chief minister of Delhi state, Arvind Kejriwal, said his region was facing an acute oxygen shortage — and challenged the central government to provide supplies. Washington Post, "Fire kills patients in second India hospital disaster this week, as coronavirus cases surge to record level," 23 Apr. 2021 Those prices are being driven by an acute shortage in housing supply that has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah State Treasurer David Damschen leaves to run housing nonprofit," 12 Apr. 2021 This intensified an already acute shortage of homes for sale, with far more buyers than sellers. WSJ, "Financial Services Roundup: Market Talk," 25 Mar. 2021

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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acute. Accessed 13 May. 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

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

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