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

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.

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 Her observations are often astute and her unabashed candor is refreshing. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 The documentary also spotlights the sweet chemistry between Tucker, Jennings and especially Carlile, who serves as producer, co-writer, supporter and astute interviewer of Tucker, often gently pulling out the star’s childhood memories. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 21 Oct. 2022 Cancers are very astute businesspeople Caves says, describing them as individuals who can easily assess the needs of the day and move towards action. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 20 Oct. 2022 Among the cast, the wonderful Amirah Vann stands out as Hattie Mae, Bayou’s astute mother with a privileged voice, while Boone is at his best when belting and delighting the audience onstage. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2022 Serious debate about getting rid of the royals will come only under a monarch less astute, less admired and more gaffe-prone than Elizabeth on the throne, Smith says. Maria Puente And Jeff Stinson, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2022 The canonical interpretation held that the devil intruded into the prophet’s inspirations, producing what appeared to be a temporary and tactically astute toleration of paganism. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, 25 Aug. 2022 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 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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



as·​tute ə-ˈst(y)üt How to pronounce astute (audio)
: having or showing understanding and the skill to make good choices or decisions : wise, shrewd
an astute investor
astutely adverb
astuteness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on astute

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