[ uh-kyoot ]
See synonyms for: acuteacutelyacuteness on

  1. sharp or severe in effect; intense: acute sorrow;an acute pain.

  2. extremely great or serious; crucial; critical: an acute shortage of oil.

  1. (of disease) brief and severe (opposed to chronic).

  2. sharp or penetrating in intellect, insight, or perception: an acute observer.

  3. extremely sensitive even to slight details or impressions: acute eyesight.

  4. sharp at the end; ending in a point.

  5. Geometry.

    • (of an angle) less than 90°.

    • (of a triangle) containing only acute angles.

  6. Phonetics, Orthography. consisting of, indicated by, or bearing the diacritic ´, placed over vowel symbols in some languages to show that the vowels or the syllables they are in are pronounced in a certain way, as in French that the quality of an e so marked is close; in Hungarian that the vowel is long; in Spanish that the marked syllable bears the word accent; in Ibo that it is pronounced with high tones; or in classical Greek, where the mark originated, that the syllable bears the word accent and is pronounced, according to the ancient grammarians, with raised pitch (opposed to grave): the acute accent;an acute e.

  1. Phonetics, Orthography. the acute accent.

Origin of acute

First recorded in 1560–70; from Latin acūtus “sharpened,” past participle of acuere (acū-, verb stem, akin to acus “needle,” ācer “sharp” + -tus past participle suffix)

synonym study For acute

4. Acute, penetrating, shrewd imply a keenness of understanding, perception, or insight. Acute suggests particularly a clearness of perception and a realization of related meanings: an acute intellect. Penetrating adds the idea of depth of perception and a realization of implications: a wise and penetrating judgment. Shrewd adds the idea of knowing how to apply practically (or to one's own advantage) what one perceives and understands: wary and shrewd.

Other words for acute

Opposites for acute

Other words from acute

  • a·cute·ly, adverb
  • a·cute·ness, noun
  • hy·per·a·cute, adjective
  • non·a·cute, adjective
  • o·ver·a·cute, adjective
  • su·per·a·cute, adjective

Words that may be confused with acute

Words Nearby acute Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use acute in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for acute


/ (əˈkjuːt) /

  1. penetrating in perception or insight

  2. sensitive to details; keen

  1. of extreme importance; crucial

  2. sharp or severe; intense: acute pain; an acute drought

  3. having a sharp end or point

  4. maths

    • (of an angle) less than 90°

    • (of a triangle) having all its interior angles less than 90°

  5. (of a disease)

    • arising suddenly and manifesting intense severity

    • of relatively short duration: Compare chronic (def. 2)

  6. phonetics

    • (of a vowel or syllable in some languages with a pitch accent, such as ancient Greek) spoken or sung on a higher musical pitch relative to neighbouring syllables or vowels

    • of or relating to an accent (´) placed over vowels, denoting that the vowel is pronounced with higher musical pitch (as in ancient Greek), with a certain special quality (as in French), etc: Compare (for senses 8a, 8b): grave, circumflex

  7. (of a hospital, hospital bed, or ward) intended to accommodate short-term patients with acute illnesses

  1. an acute accent

Origin of acute

C14: from Latin acūtus, past participle of acuere to sharpen, from acus needle

Derived forms of acute

  • acutely, adverb
  • acuteness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for acute


[ ə-kyōōt ]

  1. Reacting readily to stimuli or impressions, as hearing or eyesight; sensitive.

  2. Relating to an illness that has a rapid onset and follows a short but severe course. Compare chronic.

  1. Having an acute angle.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.