\ 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 former is a historic harbor district dotted with small galleries, cute coffeehouses, gritty street art, and hip boutiques. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Three Days In Istanbul," 28 Dec. 2018 What's even cuter is that Harry, clearly wanting to hold the hand of his beloved, reaches back, expecting Meghan's hand to be right there. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Shared a Sweet Sign of Affection at the Royal Christmas Service," 26 Dec. 2018 Between the matching Harry Potter outfits, tattoos, constant social media fawning, and now this, the pair just keeps getting cuter., "Pete Davidson Went To Sephora With Ariana Grande, Making Him Fiancé Of The Year," 30 June 2018 Pop by your local OTC for some cute and affordable raincoats! 💖 @sarahminkajackson got this over-coat for $1 😱 A post shared by Out of the Closet (@outofthecloset) on Jan 16, 2019 at 1:04pm PST Make your brunch plans...with impact in mind. Jane Mosbacher Morris, Marie Claire, "5 Easy Ways to Use Your Wallet to Create Real Change," 31 Jan. 2019 Plus, there are lots of cute, cozy towns to choose from. Mackenzie Dunn, Woman's Day, "'Winter Love Story' Actress Jen Lilley Reveals 6 Hallmark Movie Secrets," 18 Jan. 2019 The twosome shared some cute moments on the red carpet, as well. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "John Legend Tears Up Honoring Chrissy Teigen at Glamour's 2018 Women of the Year Awards," 12 Nov. 2018 Audrey posted a few cute moments on her Instagram Stories, below, which featured the toddler wearing an adorable flower crown and munching on her birthday cake. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "Audrey and Jeremy Roloff Had the Most Beautiful First Birthday Party for Their Daughter," 10 Sep. 2018 Watches were an early example of the push for miniaturization that persists today and will last until humans stop thinking smaller things are cuter/better. Michael Clerizo, WSJ, "The Future of Watches: 3-D Printed Cases and Robot Horologists," 31 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And the sisters' matching curly hair is beyond cute: Over the weekend, Kim also shared a sweet snap of baby Chicago enjoying some time on a swing. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian's Daughters, North & Chicago, Look Just Like Her in This Photo," 18 Feb. 2019 But now, Weleda has created this oh-so-lovely lip balm for us, which is not only beyond-cute but works like a charm, thanks to a calming blend of viola, chamomile, and calendula flowers. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Exclusive: Weleda Created an Entire Collection of Skin Food Products," 22 Oct. 2018 Instead of the meet-cute, there's the meeting again. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Are Mother-Daughter Movies The New Rom-Coms?," 14 May 2018 In her book Kate: The Future Queen, royal expert and biographer Katie Nicholl shares some details about Will's time in high school, before his now-famous college meet-cute with his future wife, Kate Middleton. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William Threw Himself Into School as a Distraction When Princess Diana Died," 2 Mar. 2019 That’s the meet-cute that kicks off The Wedding Date. Hannah Orenstein, Vox, "How do you choose an outfit for a fictional character? 5 authors explain.," 12 Sep. 2018 The Netflix movie dresses up nefarious behaviors as a meet-cute, and not everyone is buying into it. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "I Really Tried to Like “Sierra Burgess,” But Catfishing Isn’t Romantic — It’s Harmful," 10 Sep. 2018 The Express also reports that in an unexpected turn of events, Princess Mary and Prince Frederik had an unforgettable meet cute. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Will Be Joined by Prince Frederik and Princess Mary on Royal Tour," 2 Sep. 2018 Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party transformed the idea of a cute, animated children’s movie into a just-for-adults gagfest. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Happytime Murders tests the limits of subverting nostalgia," 24 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for cute

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cute

The first known use of cute was circa 1731

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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).


to boil down or concentrate

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