\ 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 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 Not as cute as the gray kitten up on her hind legs, seemingly in prayer (84.82). Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "Back at Work and Stressed? Cute Baby Animal Photos May Help.," 2 Jan. 2020 Their relationship highlights included cute award show PDA, a sweet anniversary locket, and one very romantic island vacation. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "Is Taylor Swift's Most Brutal Breakup Track About Calvin Harris?," 24 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, Davidson had directed his attentions to a feel-good theme: creating the page for Dogs at Polling Stations—a viral phenomenon where, yes, people photograph cute dogs outside polling stations. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "Election Results Mean All Nighters For Politicians, Pundits—And Wikipedia Editors," 13 Dec. 2019 His shirt read Penn State and his eyes were sleepy and cute, but Emira was too far into the choreography to stop without seeming completely affected. Teen Vogue, "An Excerpt from Kiley Reid's "Such a Fun Age"," 10 Dec. 2019 Since then, Hoda has shared details about their meet-cute, including the first time the financier met her former Today co-host Kathie Lee Gifford. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Show Star Hoda Kotb Reveals SUPER Exciting Details About Her Wedding," 6 Dec. 2019 Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offense got cute, having Brady throw on second and third down. BostonGlobe.com, "Twenty-eight thoughts on the Patriots’ 28-22 loss to the Texans . . .," 2 Dec. 2019 In her caption, Simms also called out athleisure brand Nylora, who makes her (super-cute) workout set. Korin Miller, Health.com, "Model Molly Simms Just Shared a 20-Minute Circuit Workout on Instagram—and Her Abs Look Amazing," 14 Nov. 2019 Off a separate hall there is a sitting room, sleeping room, full bath and a cute kid’s room. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "$1M Grosse Pointe mansion was designed for prominent family," 9 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Eastwood is deft at the exposition—Jewell and Bryant’s meet-cute, then the introductions of the principal FBI agent, Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), and the local reporter on the story, the late Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde). Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "The People vs. Richard Jewell," 20 Dec. 2019 At this point the Patriots are almost Keystone Kop cute. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Crush the cheatin' Patriots, Roger Goodell, or don't bother punishing them at all," 17 Dec. 2019 The big talking point is that this guy is one cute, teeny tiny 50-year-old. Ashley Hoffman, Time, "Baby Yoda Is Officially a Force This Holiday Season. Here Are 10 Ways You Can Celebrate," 11 Dec. 2019 Truly, the entire Marmalade collection is super cute. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "This Sloth Rug Is So Cute It’s Making Me Mad," 13 Nov. 2019 GothamGetty Images Aren't expectant parents Jenna Dewan and Steve Kazee just so stinking cute? Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Jenna Dewan Said She Has an "Unspoken Chemistry" With Steve Kazee Ahead of the Birth of Their First Child," 3 Dec. 2019 Boo, the cute, smiling Pomeranian with 16 million followers on Facebook, died in January. Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post, "This decade taught us to love viral pets. Now we have to grieve their deaths.," 2 Dec. 2019 Disney Frozen Sheet Set, $79 for a twin set (flat sheet, fitted sheet and one pillowcase) Matching Olaf pajamas for the whole family Christmas Eve just got extra chilly, and extra cute. Amy Haneline, USA TODAY, "The most enchanted 'Frozen 2' merch you never knew you needed," 22 Nov. 2019 Eyeballs roll, pumpkins, ghosts and other cute creatures come out and make for delightfully unexpected moment on the social network. Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "BOO! Facebook surprises users with adorable Halloween doodle," 31 Oct. 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

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cute.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cuteness. Accessed 23 January 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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More from Merriam-Webster on cute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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