as·​tute ə-ˈstüt How to pronounce astute (audio)
: 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
astutely adverb
astuteness noun

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Did you know?

Astute comes from the Latin noun astus, meaning "craft." The word implies being keenly observant and forming sound judgments based on knowledge and experience.

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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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web As played in the first five episodes by Milly Alcock, Rhaenyra is astute, cynical and clear-eyed, smiling politely while sizing up her chances. Giovana Gelhoren, Peoplemag, 26 Aug. 2022 Manager Craig Counsell is astute at providing playing time for his entire roster. Bernie Pleskoff, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 Capturing the sea’s sensuousness and danger, the land’s desolation, and the characters’ intense interplay, the camerawork is astute. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 July 2022 Dig deeper and Huesera reveals itself to be a wilier film — an astute study of desire and self-deception. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Aug. 2022 Yusuk, also known as Ciyan Afrin and Gian Tolhildan, had gained a reputation for her courage on the battlefield, her organization of women in the military and her astute military planning over the last 10 years. Courtney Kube, NBC News, 28 July 2022 Back in the day, their music featured astute samples drawn from Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, and Grant Green. James Sullivan,, 27 July 2022 Physical excels at taking the ostensibly mundane (suburban wives taking aerobics classes doesn’t scream must-see TV) and presenting astute and empathetic commentaries on body image and self-worth. Keith Nelson, Men's Health, 25 May 2022 Angell’s anthologies were critically praised for his astute observations on the game, not only on those who played it but those who devoted their lives to it. Mike Downey, Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2022 See More

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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Word History


Latin astutus, from astus craft

First Known Use

1565, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of astute was in 1565


Dictionary Entries Near astute

Cite this Entry

“Astute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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Kids Definition



as·​tute ə-ˈstüt How to pronounce astute (audio)
: very alert and aware : clever
an astute observer

More from Merriam-Webster on astute

Last Updated: 16 Sep 2022

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