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

Maybe modernity—industrialization and instantaneous communication especially—makes the symptoms more acute. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "HBO's Years and Years Unlocks Sci-Fi's Ultimate Potential," 11 July 2019 Some 4m people, 12% of the population, have left Venezuela since the economic crisis became acute in 2014. The Economist, "With tenacity and torture, Venezuela’s awful regime is hanging on," 11 July 2019 If the cheating runner deprives me of a podium finish, or even prize money, the offense becomes more acute. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "Frank Meza’s Death and the Running Internet Mob," 9 July 2019 Both the raising of the road and approval of the 44-unit Lincolnshire Trails townhome subdivision now under construction immediately to the east made the situation more acute for the Rivershire homeowners. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "Lincolnshire trustees give nod to privacy fencing in the Rivershire subdivision," 8 July 2019 And when even the most historically respected and presently influential publications publish reckless attacks on due process and dangerous calls for personal confrontation, that challenge grows more acute. David French, National Review, "In the New York Times, a ‘Human Rights’ Professor Calls for Mob Rule," 1 July 2019 The issue of privacy can become particularly acute when there's the presumption or wish for confidentiality – say, during a therapist visit or at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. USA TODAY, "Is Facebook listening to me? Why those ads appear after you talk about things," 27 June 2019 The symptoms may be acute, triggered by particular events like vet visits, and alleviated afterward. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "What Science Says About Why You're Stressed and How to Cope," 21 June 2019 The Stages of Sleep Deprivation There are two kinds of sleep deprivation, according to Dr. Bollu: acute and chronic. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Happens to Your Body When You’re Sleep Deprived," 10 June 2019

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 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

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

Comments on acute

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