adjective as·tute \ə-ˈstüt, a-, -ˈstyüt\

Definition of astute

  1. :  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





astute was our Word of the Day on 07/18/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of astute in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. He is an astute observer of the current political scene.

  6. Astute readers will notice the error.

  7. His analysis of the battle was very astute.

Recent Examples of astute from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology of astute

Latin astutus, from astus craft

Synonym Discussion of 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

ASTUTE Defined for Kids


adjective as·tute \ə-ˈstüt, -ˈstyüt\

Definition of astute for Students

  1. :  very alert and aware :  clever an astute observer


adverb He astutely pointed out the fake jewels.

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


cleverly stylish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!