as·​tute | \ ə-ˈstüt How to pronounce astute (audio) , a-, -ˈstyüt\

Definition of astute

: having or showing shrewdness and an ability to notice and understand things clearly : mentally sharp or clever an astute observer astute remarks also : crafty, wily

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Other Words from astute

astutely adverb
astuteness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for astute

shrewd, sagacious, perspicacious, astute mean acute in perception and sound in judgment. shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness and judgment. a shrewd judge of character sagacious suggests wisdom, penetration, and farsightedness. sagacious investors got in on the ground floor perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and understand what is puzzling or hidden. a perspicacious counselor saw through the child's facade astute suggests shrewdness, perspicacity, and diplomatic skill. an astute player of party politics

The Difference Between Astute, Shrewd, and Sagacious

Astute is similar in meaning to shrewd and sagacious, but there are subtle differences in connotation among them. All three suggest sharp thinking and sound judgment, but shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness and judgment ("a shrewd judge of character"), whereas sagacious implies wisdom and foresight combined with good judgment ("sagacious investors"). Astute, which derives from the Latin noun astus, meaning "craft," suggests cleverness, mental sharpness, and diplomatic skill ("an astute player of party politics").

Examples of astute in a Sentence

We thought they were not very intellectually astute, but we didn't really understand how political a lot of what they were doing was. — Ben Wallace-Wells, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2007 He asked astute diagnosticians around the country how they approached and cracked difficult diagnoses and what happened when they failed. Misdiagnosis is not an insignificant problem: Groopman cites a finding that between one in six and one in seven patients is incorrectly assessed. — Ruth Levy Guyer, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2007 And finally, even if she had never actually uttered the bon mot that would be famously attributed to her, that if she had two heads, she would risk one in the king's service, could the astute young duchess actually have had input into the implausible negotiations? — Harvey Rachlin, Scandals, Vandals, and Da Vincis, 2007 Focusing largely upon Western alchemy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, she has a sharp eye for how alchemical images surface in literature of that period. Readers of Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare will find illuminating insights. Abraham reveals the far reaches of her astute literary intelligence by analyzing alchemical imagery encoded in a broad range of works, from Chaucer and Milton to Vladimir Nabokov and P. G. Wodehouse. — Norman Weinstein, Parabola, November 1999 He is an astute observer of the current political scene. Astute readers will notice the error. His analysis of the battle was very astute.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The book, which Picasso tried to block from being published, also includes Gilot’s astute analysis of his work and character against the backdrop of 20th-century politics and art history. The Atlantic, "What We’re Reading This Summer," 28 June 2019 In the image, Gyllenhaal is focused on Holland with an astute, adoring gaze — much like Holland’s fans must feel towards their superhero. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Stephen Colbert Presents the Proof That Jake Gyllenhaal Truly Adores Tom Holland," 25 June 2019 The Democrats are very lucky to have someone as astute as Pelosi in charge. John Wildermuth,, "Support impeachment, lose a seat: Why some California Democrats go easy on Trump," 21 June 2019 But beyond the laughs, there may be an astute point here. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "The Deeper Meaning Behind Justin and Hailey Bieber’s Fake-Pregnancy Joke," 1 Apr. 2019 Green played stupefyingly astute defense, dove on the floor for every loose ball, was a menace on the boards, and a deft distributor of the ball on offense. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: These reeling Warriors don’t look like a team bound for a miracle," 7 June 2019 Incentives for power and profit on a massive scale motivate the most politically astute and cynical at the expense of the average citizen and a freer economy. WSJ, "Debating the Carbon Tax Dividend Strategy," 24 Jan. 2019 An astute political judge, he was nonetheless ousted in 2007 as voters struggling with rising living costs and worrying about jobs turned to Labor and the more youthful Kevin Rudd, rejecting Mr. Howard's push for workplace deregulation. Rachel Pannett, WSJ, "Australia Ousts Another Prime Minister as Ruling Party Shifts Right," 24 Aug. 2018 More Theory Time: These angels are liiiiikely Iconians (which astute Star Trek fans have already observed), an ancient race that ruled the galaxy thousands of years before humans became warp capable. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Gets Back to Basics," 25 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'astute.' 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 astute

1565, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for astute

Latin astutus, from astus craft

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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The first known use of astute was in 1565

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More Definitions for astute


as·​tute | \ ə-ˈstüt How to pronounce astute (audio) , -ˈstyüt\

Kids Definition of astute

: very alert and aware : clever an astute observer

Other Words from astute

astutely adverb He astutely pointed out the fake jewels.

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More from Merriam-Webster on astute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with astute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for astute

Spanish Central: Translation of astute

Nglish: Translation of astute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of astute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on astute

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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