cute

1 of 2

adjective

cuter; cutest
1
a
: 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.
cutely adverb
cuteness noun

cute

2 of 2

noun

: 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.

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
The crew then headed to Rome for more Challengers press, and Zendaya ditched the extensions in favor of her shoulder-length lob once more, this time with a cute retro spin. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 8 Apr. 2024 Molly Ringwald's 3 Children: All About Mathilda, Adele and Roman The cute family shot comes days after the Sixteen Candles star reflected on the life (and conception!) of eldest daughter Mathilda, 20, in an interview with U.K. newspaper The Times. Bailey Richards, Peoplemag, 7 Apr. 2024 The cute animal theme also supports object recognition as tots get older and the soft and cushiony texture makes this a fun and comfy toy for little ones to interact with. Maya Polton, Parents, 6 Apr. 2024 In Michigan, the app was banned in March 2023 from government devices — with certain exceptions, like Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's promotional account, which has brought cute dog videos, her March Madness bracket and news about her initiatives to her roughly 245,000 followers. Brooke Schultz, Quartz, 6 Apr. 2024 Interested adopters can meet the cute Colonel Cabbage at AHS’ new Papago Park Campus. The Arizona Republic, 5 Apr. 2024 Grab a picture with a cute piglet or explore three buildings filled with local vendors. Jody MacE, Charlotte Observer, 3 Apr. 2024 Most recently luxury nail artist Harriet Westmoreland created a cute, short set for her celebrity client Lily Allen. Elle Turner, Glamour, 2 Apr. 2024 Sending me a post of myself in my school uniform calling me a cute nerdy girl. Christian Holub, EW.com, 2 Apr. 2024
Noun
How friggin' cute is that? Marci Robin, Allure, 16 June 2022 This is high-octane cute. Ali Barthwell, Vulture, 25 Aug. 2021 With a backyard this cute, who needs a trip? Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, 13 Oct. 2020 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cute.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Noun

short for acute

First Known Use

Adjective

circa 1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cute. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

cute

adjective
ˈkyüt
cuter; cutest
1
: clever sense 3, shrewd
they're not cute enough to fool me
2
: attractive especially in looks or actions
a cute baby
a cute outfit
3
a
: clever in an appealing way
a cute idea
b
: wise sense 3
don't get cute with me
cutely adverb
cuteness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on cute

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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