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


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: 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

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

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
Caroline Shayan was cute and would be a great match for someone his age. Melissa Schorr,, 20 Jan. 2023 The chicks may be cute, but little kids especially are much more likely to get sick with salmonella because their immune systems are still developing. Jen Christensen, CNN, 18 Jan. 2023 After all, flaky skin is not cute — and even if your skin is more on the oily side, avoiding moisturization can actually increase oil production and leave you with a slick face in no time. Nikhita Mahtani, Allure, 2 Jan. 2023 About a third of the items are animals either being cute, being saved, or both. Rose Eveleth, WIRED, 29 Dec. 2022 Tutula No doubt about it, this bonte-baby is very cute. oregonlive, 28 Dec. 2022 Receiving letters from little kids after a performance of some kind is usually cute and can often be motivating and inspirational for adults. Jevon Phillipsmultiplatform Editor, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2022 The overall plot is wacky, but the chemistry is cute. Kayla Samoy, Chicago Tribune, 15 Dec. 2022 Keep scrolling for the coolest ways to wear cozy gear that completes your cute winter outfits. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, 12 Dec. 2022
Duff credited photographer Laura Moll for the cute snap. Tracey Harrington Mccoy, Peoplemag, 21 Dec. 2022 And through it all, for two decades, a so-ugly-he’s-cute saber-toothed squirrel has been trying to get his grubby mitts on an acorn. Perseverance Apr. 14, Vulture, 14 Apr. 2022 These animals are not the same as their cute-and-cuddly ringed seal counterparts: Leopard seals are toothsome beasts that can grow to nearly 10 feet long. Sara Novak, Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2022 For Your Secret Santa With over 48,000 ratings on Amazon, these cute-as-can-be sponges are just the best. Cailey Lindberg And Brigitt Earley, Good Housekeeping, 6 Dec. 2022 Made of comfy, breathable cotton, the rompers are available in sizes ranging from 0 to 24 months and feature cute-as-can-be prints, from happy fruits to animals. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Apr. 2022 The country music singer, 39, took her daughter to the Big Apple for a sweet mother-daughter date night at the iHeart Radio Jingle Ball 2022 and shared some cute behind-the-scenes moments on her Instagram. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 10 Dec. 2022 The cute snap featured the baby boy sporting a blue and orange knit sweater with his name on it, as well as an oversized red cap and orange socks. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 16 Nov. 2022 Plus, with packaging this cute, who needs to gift wrap? Tatjana Freund, ELLE, 15 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

short for acute

First Known Use


circa 1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1965, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cute was circa 1731

Dictionary Entries Near cute

Cite this Entry

“Cute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


cuter; cutest
: clever sense 3, shrewd
they're not cute enough to fool me
: attractive especially in looks or actions
a cute baby
a cute outfit
: clever in an appealing way
a cute idea
: wise sense 3
don't get cute with me
cutely adverb
cuteness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on cute

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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