\ 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 Michaels also shared photos of the matching tattoos, proving that their friendship is super adorable, along with a pic of the pair sharing a kiss, which is too cute. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Selena Gomez and Julia Michaels Just Got the Cutest Matching Tattoos," 13 Nov. 2019 From protecting their zen in Thailand to being Black girl chic in Paris, this mommy-and-me duo is too cute for words. Essence, "This Mother-Daughter Adventure Reminds Us That Moms Make Great Travel Buddies," 4 Oct. 2019 While Buddy was a giant elf that didn't quite fit in with the fellow elves in the North Pole, the hilarious storyline of him actually being a human with a father residing in New York City is still too cute for words. Nashia Baker, House Beautiful, "Buddy The Elf Wreaths Are the Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer," 28 Sep. 2019 In season 4, God gratuitously arranges the unlikely death of everyone Jesse tries to help, including cute dogs and children. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Preacher is unwatched, unloved, and doomed — but Tulip O’Hare goes on," 14 Aug. 2019 The best one is that Baby Yoda is a bit of marketing calculus on Disney’s part, a being engineered to be cute enough to move scores of toys this holiday season. Wired, "Love Baby Yoda, You Must," 22 Nov. 2019 The show is cute, but the lighting really puts you in the spirit. 8. Scott Craven, USA TODAY, "Visiting Disneyland or Disney World for the holidays? Don't make these common mistakes," 21 Nov. 2019 Indianapolis Star INDIANAPOLIS – Marian isn't here to play cute football. Tyler Kraft, Indianapolis Star, "Marian football enters NAIA playoffs undefeated behind a physical approach," 21 Nov. 2019 Sometimes there are distractions in the form of cute coworkers. Love Letters.com, "I’m married but have fallen for my coworker," 12 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Twenty-five years ago, Gwen and British singer Gavin Rossdale were rock royalty, with a musical meet-cute to boot: The pair first crossed paths when No Doubt opened for Gavin's band, Bush, in 1995. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, "All the Details of Gwen Stefani’s Divorce from Gavin Rossdale," 27 Oct. 2019 If only Chris and Kendall had been bumbling their way inside at the same time, Chris might have gotten his Hollywood meet-cute. Neil Drumming, Washington Post, "Date Lab: He was hoping for an old-fashioned meet-cute," 22 Aug. 2019 Emilia Clarke plays a woman working as a Christmas shop elf in London who meets cute with a mysterious man (Henry Golding). Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "Holiday Movies 2019: Here’s What’s Coming Soon to Theaters," 1 Nov. 2019 Instead, the finale rewinds to imagine a meet-cute for the couple in the story. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "Modern Love Has Nothing New to Say About Modern Love," 23 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

12 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cute.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cutest. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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

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