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 The outbreak of violence has been particularly acute in the District, where four people were fatally shot Friday within a few hours, in four incidents that appeared unconnected. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Three shot in confrontation in park in Hyattsville area, police say," 12 July 2020 Other nurses — some new, some working previously in non-acute care — have been deployed to critical care units. Karen J. Foli, CNN, "Nurses are struggling with trauma. But they were suffering long before Covid-19 hit," 9 July 2020 Perhaps nowhere is this tension more acute than in Florida, where a surge in positive cases is blamed on young revelers flocking to bars and beaches and partying with friends and strangers. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "As US cases soar, 'coronavirus detectives' face new strain," 8 July 2020 The hurdles to weeding out bad apples in the first place seemed particularly acute in Minnesota, where Floyd died. Fox News, "How fired police get rehired: Discipline challenges emerge in appeals process," 17 June 2020 The emergency department reopened Monday under a contract with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which opened other unused areas earlier for acute care of patients with COVID-19. USA TODAY, "Luchador face masks, Kid Rock citation, virtual memorial: News from around our 50 states," 16 June 2020 The order applies to all acute-care hospitals and urgent care clinics operated by El Camino Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Regional Medical Center and Stanford Healthcare. Chronicle Staff, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: June 10," 11 June 2020 Between March 1 and April 30, cardiologists saw 258 patients with acute coronary syndrome, and of those, 7.8 percent had broken heart syndrome, compared to 1.7 percent prior to the pandemic. Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE.com, "Cases of ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ Have Increased During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Study Finds," 9 July 2020 For the study, cardiologists at the Cleveland and downtown Akron campuses looked at 258 patients coming in with heart symptoms known as acute coronary syndrome and compared them with four control groups before the pandemic. Betty Lin-fisher, USA TODAY, "Stress from coronavirus pandemic can lead to 'broken heart syndrome,' study finds," 9 July 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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Statistics for acute

Last Updated

31 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Acute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acute. Accessed 11 Aug. 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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