Synonym Chooser

How does the noun acumen differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of acumen are discernment, discrimination, insight, penetration, and perception. While all these words mean "a power to see what is not evident to the average mind," acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment.

a director of reliable box-office acumen

When would discernment be a good substitute for acumen?

The words discernment and acumen are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art).

the discernment to know true friends

When is it sensible to use discrimination instead of acumen?

While the synonyms discrimination and acumen are close in meaning, discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent.

the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music

When is insight a more appropriate choice than acumen?

The meanings of insight and acumen largely overlap; however, insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy.

a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless

When could penetration be used to replace acumen?

The words penetration and acumen can be used in similar contexts, but penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial.

lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles

When might perception be a better fit than acumen?

The synonyms perception and acumen are sometimes interchangeable, but perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling).

a novelist of keen perception into human motives


Thesaurus Entries Near acumen

Cite this Entry

“Acumen.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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