\ 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

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

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The Unlikely Evolution of Cute


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


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

The animal shapes are cute and fun, but one packet contains almost three teaspoons of sugar, and 0% of the daily target for fiber or nutrients. Cynthia Sass, Mph,, "5 Trader Joe's New Products to Try This Fall," 17 Sep. 2019 Honestly, the whole play, which had been funny and cute and maybe even a tad thought-provoking up until this point, turned for me after the second seizure, when Bari is out on a blind date with Mike (Joe Wiens). Jerald Pierce,, "Shattered Globe’s ‘Be Here Now’: Can happiness be real if it’s caused by a brain tumor?," 16 Sep. 2019 They are blessed with good looks, talent and a cute young son, Henry (Azhy Robertson). N.b. | Venice, The Economist, "“Marriage Story” probes the painful disintegration of a relationship," 4 Sep. 2019 Or in the slot. There’s a fine line between being clever and being cute, granted. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Laviska Shenault made Air Force look silly, so what are the CU Buffs saving him for?," 14 Sep. 2019 Look how cute: July 4, 2018: Emma and Ethan celebrated the fourth together on jet skis and Ethan even posted a pic commemorating the event on his Instagram. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "The Complete Timeline of Emma Chamberlain and Ethan Dolan's Rumored Relationship," 11 Sep. 2019 The brand officially announced the new palette's debut via their Instagram channel with a cute, cheeky honey-centric video featuring brand ambassadors Lizzo and Joey King. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Lizzo and Joey King are the Stars of Urban Decay's New Naked Honey Campaign," 4 Sep. 2019 But playing both at the same time, with one lined up out wide, was an example of Michigan getting too cute — especially when everything else seemed to work. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's new offense shines, despite sloppiness, in 40-21 win over MTSU," 31 Aug. 2019 The robo-tail, which was presented in July at a conference in Los Angeles, looks cute, in a T. rex sort of way. NBC News, "This robotic tail gives humans key abilities that evolution took away," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Notting Hill was the setting for Ella Harris and Harley Philp’s meet-cute. Vogue, "The Bride Arrived by Boat for Her English Wedding at Sarsden Lake," 13 Sep. 2019 Say Darling’s own meet-cute starts at a bluegrass jam at Cambridge’s Cantab Lounge in 2009. Lauren Daley,, "Say Darling’s chemistry is a story of connections made," 22 Aug. 2019 Throughout the aughts, Lopez could pull off a meet-cute like no one else and get the right guy by the 90-minute mark. Ariana Romero,, "It's Jennifer Lopez's Birthday — Here's Where You Can Stream All Her Best Rom-Coms," 25 July 2019 Halloween is the perfect time to show everyone a different side of you, so use the opportunity to wear something super cute! Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Take This Quiz to Find Out What You NEED to Be For Halloween," 12 Sep. 2019 This white sangria is bright and refreshing Is Pepsi’s Bubly the new LaCroix, or just another cute can? Emily Heil, Washington Post, "The key to White Claw’s surging popularity: Marketing to a post-gender world," 10 Sep. 2019 So, style your cardigan with a cute, printed midi skirt and your favorite pair of kicks. Bianca Nieves, Teen Vogue, "How to Wear Fall 2019's Cardigan Trend, Now," 29 Aug. 2019 One of our favorite feelings is the simplistic joy that comes with throwing on a cute, no-fuss dress and going about your business. Dominique Hobdy, Essence, "The Everyday No-Fuss Dresses That'll Keep You Cozy This Fall," 21 Aug. 2019 In addition to providing a direct line of communication to the brand, the booths also serve as a cute, Instagrammable setting for those wanting to post pics of their eye-catching liner. Baze Mpinja, Vogue, "Kelela Wears Avant Garde Eyeliner—and Shares Her Favorite Products—at UZ’s New York Store Opening," 26 June 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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More Definitions for cute



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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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).


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