acute

adjective
\ ə-ˈkyüt How to pronounce acute (audio) \
acuter; acutest

Essential Meaning of acute

1 : very serious or dangerous : requiring serious attention or action an acute [=critical, severe] fuel shortage an acute crisis the acute phase [=the most important and dangerous phase] of the struggle for independence
2 : having or showing an ability to think clearly and to understand what is not obvious or simple about something an acute observation/understanding an acute observer See More Examplesan acute sense of humor It's a politically acute film that does not oversimplify the issues.Hide
3 : very strong and sensitive : highly developed acute [=keen] hearing/vision acute awareness

Full 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

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 In New York City, where many renters live, the problem is even more acute, with one-third of households in that category. New York Times, 14 Jan. 2022 The challenge is the same for pet food, and is even more acute, supermarket executives say, because of the sudden high demand. Jaewon Kang, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2021 AirPods are less acute as many people tend to wear them all the time due to their lightweight and only take them out for recharging. Mark Vena, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021 The disheartening sense of COVID-19 deja vu is acute in countries like Germany, where vaccination rates are the lowest in western Europe and new infections are breaking records. oregonlive, 14 Nov. 2021 Ewing, another member of the panel, said the needs of the Waukegan community were acute when the pandemic began, and went beyond taking steps to avoid coming in contact with people infected by COVID-19. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, 9 Nov. 2021 The regions of the world most plagued by antibiotic resistance match up quite well with regions where the problem of substandard and falsified therapeutics is acute. Muhammad H. Zaman, STAT, 26 Oct. 2021 An aide said that Clinton had a urological infection that had developed into sepsis, although it was not considered to be acute. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Oct. 2021 The pressure felt relative to one’s livelihood could be more acute in FC Cincinnati’s locker room as opposed to some of its upcoming opponents. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 14 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near acute

acutance

acute

acute bisectrix

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Statistics for acute

Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acute. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for acute

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

Nglish: Translation of acute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acute for Arabic Speakers

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