cute

adjective
\ 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.

cute

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cute

Adjective

cutely adverb
cuteness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for cute

Synonyms: Adjective

artful, beguiling, cagey (also cagy), crafty, cunning, designing, devious, dodgy [chiefly British], foxy, guileful, scheming, shrewd, slick, sly, subtle, tricky, wily

Antonyms: Adjective

artless, guileless, ingenuous, innocent, undesigning

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

The Unlikely Evolution of Cute

Adjective

Cute is a word whose meaning has gone has gone through a thorough historical transformatio. 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

Wild animals are not pets Anyone who has ever seen a raccoon nibbling on some peanut butter knows the animals can look every bit as cute and cuddly as a family pet. Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "Why you shouldn't feed wild animals (except maybe birds)," 5 July 2019 Both were also celebrating their involvement in upcoming films like Black Panther and Hidden Figures and were looking cute while doing it. Clarkisha Kent, EW.com, "All the times Lupita Nyong’o and Janelle Monáe’s friendship made us incredibly jealous," 4 July 2019 The tropical packaging and fresh coconut scent were admittedly very cute, but for once, the actual feeling of flossing won me over. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "This Coconut Oil Floss Turned Me Into a Daily Flosser," 29 June 2019 Luckily, there are options for stylish loafers and shoes that are not only work-appropriate, but are super cute and comfy. Brittany Loggins, NBC News, "Bon voyage! The 10 best airport-to-office shoes," 28 June 2019 There is, or was, a great deal about gay culture that was not particularly nice, that was genuinely transgressive, that was not cute, that was no conducive to bachelorette parties, etc. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Social-Media Censors vs. Gays," 26 June 2019 This could put the A.I. in control of homes, vehicles, businesses, and more, crafting a terrifying Skynet-style monolith led by the cute and creepy dolls of Kaslan. Rosie Knight, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Child's Play' Sets Up a Sci-Fi Sequel," 22 June 2019 As per usual, the Cambridge children made a big impact at the event, with Prince Louis stealing the show, and Princess Charlotte looking endlessly cute. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George Repeats His Bored AF Pose from Trooping the Colour 2017," 8 June 2019 This is all kind of quaint and cute, but otherwise, so what? Bob Ryan, BostonGlobe.com, "There was never anyone exactly like Moe Berg," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Girly Chic Dorm Room Plants + some good lighting + a cute throw = all the difference in the world. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "15 Insanely Cute Dorm Room Transformations That Will Totally Blow Your Mind," 20 June 2019 The ruched waist also makes for a super cute and comfortable waistband that could be accessorized with a belt. Brittany Loggins, NBC News, "11 perfect outfits for your summer job interview (that won't break the bank!)," 20 June 2019 His hosting duties included plugging his own talk show; a few cute, spoofy songs, including one with former hosts Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban and Neil Patrick Harris, and the de rigueur bantering with celebrities in the front rows. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Tony Awards 2019: ‘Hadestown’ wins best musical, and ‘The Ferryman’ snags best play," 9 June 2019 Harp seals Harp seal pups are mighty cute, and pups are the apple of mom’s eye—for about 12 days. Brian Handwerk, National Geographic, "'Bad moms' of the animal kingdom are only trying to survive," 10 May 2019 In fact, when Meghan announced her engagement to Prince Harry, Moore sent the former Suits star an email to congratulate her, which led to a super cute exchange between the pair. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Mandy Moore Dishes on Her Surprising Friendship with Meghan Markle," 17 Nov. 2018 But way before her dress fittings at Oscar de la Renta—documented here—and an epic walk down a 262-foot long aisle bisecting the town square at Castiglion del Bosco, there was the meet cute in Miami that started everything. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Tennis Star Caroline Wozniacki Wears Custom Oscar de la Renta to Her Wedding Under the Tuscan Sun," 15 June 2019 The finished look is crazy cute and really easy to do. Victoria Rodriguez, Seventeen, "13 Graduation Hairstyles That Will Still Look Cute Under Your Grad Cap," 9 Apr. 2019 But until now, there haven't been many options this cute that also provide such a valuable summertime service. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Target's Fanny Pack Wine Cooler Is the Only Accessory You Need This Summer," 31 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of cute

Adjective

circa 1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1965, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cute

Adjective and Noun

short for acute

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cute

cute

adjective

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

cute

adjective
\ 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!

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cute

Spanish Central: Translation of cute

Nglish: Translation of cute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cute

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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