\ ˈkyüt How to pronounce cute (audio) \
cuter; cutest

Definition of cute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : clever or shrewd often in an underhanded manner " … he's a true patriot and statesman … and a most particular cute lawyer."— Thomas Chandler Haliburton
b : impertinent, smart-alecky Don't get cute with me.
2 : attractive or pretty especially in a childish, youthful, or delicate way a cute puppy a cute smile
3 : obviously straining for effect The movie's too cute to be taken seriously.



Definition of cute (Entry 2 of 2)

: the quality or state of being cute or cutesy also : an instance of cuteness or cutesiness usually used in plural a movie suffering from a case of the cutes

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Other Words from cute


cutely adverb
cuteness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for cute

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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The Unlikely Evolution of Cute


Cute is a word whose meaning has gone has gone through a thorough historical transformation. There is no argument about cute’s derivation: it is a shortening of acute (and was sometimes actually spelled ‘cute). Acute has meant “clever, shrewd” since Shakespeare’s time and has had a set of other meanings as well, but it has never been defined as “attractive or pretty.” The contraction cute first appears in the early 18th century, but only a century later does it begin to take on its distinctive modern meaning; even after 1900 children were still being called cute as a compliment to their intelligence. (Compare the contemporaneous word cunning, with its strikingly similar ambiguity.) A few years into the century, we start to see the word—finally!—in descriptions of puppies and kittens. But the original sense hasn’t completely vanished; in such sentences as “Don’t get cute with me,” cute has nothing to do with adorable sweetness.

Examples of cute in a Sentence

Adjective she's very nice, but she's not afraid to get cute when there's something she wants we're having a serious discussion here, so cut the cute remarks
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Luckily, this cute girl was physically healthy when first brought to AHS but understandably nervous with all the changes happening so quickly in her life. The Arizona Republic, "Lindsey and more pets up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 23 Oct. 2020 Canopy comes in four cute colors: white, blue, green, and pink. Akili King, Vogue, "Why This Do-It-All Air Humidifier Is the Only One I Use," 21 Oct. 2020 No surprise here, the ’Zon is really coming through on the intimates front with cute, quality underwear options at affordable prices. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "The Best Amazon Underwear Reviewers Unanimously Love," 21 Oct. 2020 For the marathon sprinter: Run Ink Marathon Poster Help the runner in your life commemorate their big achievements with one of these cute Run Ink prints. Nicole Briese, USA TODAY, "30 awesome gifts under $30 for everyone on your list," 20 Oct. 2020 Shah’s game play is indeed a lovely walk in the park, broken up by light showers, a cute puppy and a literal piece of cake. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, "‘Dungeons & Democracy’: British comic Nish Kumar skewers U.S. voting system," 20 Oct. 2020 Kylie collections, this drop is crazy affordable and super f*cking cute, hitting on all your fall-during-coronavirus trends, like tie-dye loungewear, dressy denim, and a whooole bunch of T-shirts. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Kendall and Kylie Jenner Dropped An Amazon Collection and Every Item Comes With a Free Face Mask," 19 Oct. 2020 Forget messy face paint whiskers — this year, elevate your animal costume with a mask with its own whiskers and cute heart nose. Jolie Kerr, CNN Underscored, "Halloween face masks that keep you safe — and still spooky," 19 Oct. 2020 Once known as a cute wonderboy from The O.C. and Gilmore Girls, Adam Brody is switching up fan expectations in his latest leading-man role with The Kid Detective. Omar Sanchez, EW.com, "Adam Brody on his 'brutal' awkward cry at the end of The Kid Detective," 19 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Where Joanna typically shares the cute behind-the-scenes snaps from adventures and fun family nights, on Sunday, October 11, the Fixer Upper star posted a peek into how her sleep routine has changed as a result of her kids. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, "Fans Are Praising Joanna Gaines After She Shared a Super Relatable Post About Motherhood," 13 Oct. 2020 But the blizzard of memes didn’t allow any time to distinguish between the cute and the offensive, the innocuous and the hateful. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "How Memes Ruined the World," 30 Sep. 2020 While homemade costumes can sometimes cause more stress than their worth, these cute-as-can-be pig costumes are seriously easy to make, no matter your skill level or craft closet supply. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "3 Adorable Pig Costumes That Are Easy Enough for Anyone to DIY This Halloween," 9 Sep. 2020 My baby niece iris .. scroll through and whiteness the most squishy cute gumdrop ever!! Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Hailey Baldwin And Justin Bieber Wore Matching Face Masks to Meet Their New Niece," 24 Aug. 2020 Cannon and Haley also shared a trio of images from a sweet maternity photo shoot, showing off a strip of ultrasound photos, a cute onesie for their little guy and a sign announcing his imminent arrival. Jen Juneau, PEOPLE.com, "Whiskey Myers Frontman Cody Cannon and Wife Expecting a Son: 'A Light in These Strange Times'," 25 Aug. 2020 In the cute snap, mother and daughter can be seen lazing on the beach while wearing swimwear. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow and Daughter Apple Twin in a Summer Beach Selfie," 19 July 2020 The temptation to veer toward cute is almost irresistible. oregonlive, "The Oregonian/OregonLive wins 4 Society of Features Journalism awards," 9 July 2020 The entire four minute sketch is super cute — and somewhat disturbing. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Billie Eilish Asks Little Kids Where They Go When They Fall Asleep," 23 Nov. 2019

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


circa 1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1965, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cute

Adjective and Noun

short for acute

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Time Traveler for cute

Time Traveler

The first known use of cute was circa 1731

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Statistics for cute

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cute. Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for cute

How to pronounce cute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cute

: having a pleasing and usually youthful appearance
chiefly US, informal : attractive in a sexual way
: clever in an appealing way
\ ˈkyüt How to pronounce cute (audio) \
cuter; cutest

Kids Definition of cute

1 : attractive in looks or actions a cute puppy
2 : clever sense 2 a cute story
3 : clever in a way that annoys Don't be cute with me!

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Comments on cute

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