Definition of acute in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈkyo͞ot/


1(Of a bad, difficult, or unwelcome situation or phenomenon) present or experienced to a severe or intense degree: an acute housing shortage the problem is acute and getting worse
More example sentences
  • An acute shortage of experienced staff is undermining growth, says Wong.
  • One issue that all the various groups on East Riding of Yorkshire Council agree on is the acute shortage of affordable housing throughout the region.
  • There is an acute shortage of housing in Colchester and a great need for first time buyers to get on the ladder.
severe, critical, drastic, dire, dreadful, terrible, awful, grave, bad, serious, desperate, dangerous
1.1(Of a disease or its symptoms) of short duration but typically severe: acute appendicitis Often contrasted with chronic.
More example sentences
  • Symptoms of acute disease resolve by one to three months, although some persons have prolonged fatigue.
  • The most severe stages of acute asthma are respiratory failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death.
  • Bacterial infection can cause acute arthritis with inflammation, which constitutes an emergency.
sharp, severe, stabbing, piercing, excruciating, agonizing, racking, keen, shooting, searing
1.2Denoting or designed for patients with acute conditions: acute hospital services acute patients
More example sentences
  • She was kept in the acute patients' ward under observation.
  • He highlighted that Waterford Regional is an acute hospital with patients often having an average stay of five or six days.
  • Fines will be imposed on councils when a patient remains in an acute hospital bed after they have been deemed fit to be discharged to their own home or to a care home.
2Having or showing a perceptive understanding or insight: shrewd: an acute awareness of changing fashions
More example sentences
  • Of all American presidents, Lincoln had the most acute religious insight.
  • Tom Hamilton has produced an acute and insightful response to my post on euthanasia, of a kind with which it is a pleasure to engage.
  • My students articulate an acute awareness, if not a full understanding, of academic labor issues.
astute, shrewd, sharp, sharp-witted, razor-sharp, rapierlike, quick, quick-witted, agile, nimble, clever, intelligent, brilliant, keen, smart, canny, discerning, perceptive, perspicacious, penetrating, insightful, incisive, piercing, discriminating, sagacious, wise, judicious
informal on the ball, quick off the mark, quick on the uptake, streetwise, savvy
2.1(Of a physical sense or faculty) highly developed; keen: an acute sense of smell
More example sentences
  • They have a keen sense of smell, acute hearing, but poor eyesight.
  • Its sight is marvellously keen, hearing exceedingly acute, and sense of smell wonderfully perfect.
  • They use night vision and an acute sense of hearing to find prey in the dark.
keen, sharp, good, penetrating, discerning, sensitive
3(Of an angle) less than 90°.
Example sentences
  • It has a large posterior auricle that has a concave posterior margin meeting the hinge at an acute angle.
  • An Adam Heyslip corner from the right was met by the unmarked Darren Flanagan at the back post and from an acute angle, he tucked the ball to the corner of the net giving the keeper little chance.
  • As Pelonis describes it, many compression ceilings are set at an acute angle to the front wall and are typically very hard.
3.1Having a sharp end; pointed.
Example sentences
  • When you make the drill, do not make the cutting edges so sharp or too acute.
3.2(Of a sound) high; shrill.
Example sentences
  • This is an acute sound, which evokes desperate associations.


short for acute accent.
Example sentences
  • The word côte has no acute on the "e" at the end of the word while coté does.
  • My name is pronounced Colay and has an acute on the e.



Pronunciation: /əˈkyo͞otnəs/
Example sentences
  • The intelligence and analytical acuteness you bring to the site have been an inspiration to me.
  • These pursuits require mental acuteness, intellectual agility and detailed analysis.
  • The acuteness and expanse of his vision, his documentary power, and his grace and skill as an artist make his work devastatingly, frighteningly immediate.


Late Middle English (sense 2 of the adjective): from Latin acutus, past participle of acuere 'sharpen', from acus 'needle'.

  • accent from Late Middle English:

    English distinguishes the different parts or syllables of a word by stressing one of them, but the ancient Greeks pronounced them with a distinct difference in musical pitch. Syllables marked with a grave accent (for example à, from Latin gravis ‘heavy, serious’) were spoken at a comparatively low pitch, those with an acute (á, from Latin acutus ‘sharp, high’) at a higher pitch, and those with a circumflex (â, from Latin circumflexus, ‘bent around’) began at the higher pitch and descended during the pronunciation of the syllable. This gives some explanation of why the root of accent is Latin cantus ‘song’, which was a direct translation of the Greek word prosōidia (source of prosody (Late Middle English) ‘versification’). Quite a few languages (technically known as ‘tonal’ languages) still have this musical way of speaking, among them Chinese and Swedish.

Words that rhyme with acute

argute, astute, beaut, Beirut, boot, bruit, brut, brute, Bute, butte, Canute, cheroot, chute, commute, compute, confute, coot, cute, depute, dilute, dispute, flute, galoot, hoot, impute, jute, loot, lute, minute, moot, newt, outshoot, permute, pollute, pursuit, recruit, refute, repute, route, salute, Salyut, scoot, shoot, Shute, sloot, snoot, subacute, suit, telecommute, Tonton Macoute, toot, transmute, undershoot, uproot, Ute, volute

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: a·cute

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