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Borrowed from Latin acūmen (sharp point).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈækjʊmən/, /əˈkjuːmən/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈkjumən/, /ˈækjəmən/
  • (US, rare) IPA(key): /æˈkjumən/, /ˈækjəˌmɛn/


acumen (usually uncountable, plural acumens)

  1. Quickness of perception or discernment; penetration of mind; the faculty of nice discrimination.
    Synonyms: sharpness, penetration, keenness, shrewdness, acuteness, acuity, wit, foxiness, intelligence, canniness
    • 1842, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Lady Anne Granard, volume 2, page 168:
      "I am going to ask you a question that does not require much legal acumen to answer," said Lord Meersbrook to his attorney, when he called the next day in Lincoln's Inn;...
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter II, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
      Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. [] A silver snaffle on a heavy leather watch guard which connected the pockets of his corduroy waistcoat, together with a huge gold stirrup in his Ascot tie, sufficiently proclaimed his tastes. [] But withal there was a perceptible acumen about the man which was puzzling in the extreme.
    • 1905, Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”, in The Return of Sherlock Holmes:
      No, no, my dear Watson! With all respect for your natural acumen, I do not think that you are quite a match for the worthy doctor.
    • 1991, Ted Tally, The Silence of the Lambs, spoken by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins):
      Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling? Enthrall me with your acumen.
  2. (botany) A sharp, tapering point extending from a plant.
    • 1956, S.M. Bukasov, Translation of THEORETICAL BASES OF PLAN BREEDING[1], page 6:
      11. S. boyacense. Resembles S. Rybinii from which it is distinguished by the greater dissection of the leaves, the longer calyx acumens, smaller anthers and coloured corolla.
    • 1978, chapter 2, in The Potato Crop: The scientific basis for improvement[2], →ISBN, page 30:
      Herbs with long creeping stolons; leaves with coarse white hairs, or glabrous. The arched corolla lobes and large acumens give the corolla a circular appearance with acumens standing out sharply from it. Corolla occasionally, however, substellate.
    • 1990, Cryptogamic Botany, Volume 2[3], page 315:
      In our opinion, specimens of I. pilifera represent a robust expression of I. sinensis with many stem and branch leaves becoming strongly concave and broadly ovate to obovate in outline, thereby intensifying the abrupt contraction of the pilaferous acumens. It is best accepted as a variety of N. comes. The length of leaf acumens is another variable character expressed by Barbella amoena. Thus, it is also better combined with the var. pilifera as a synonym.
  3. (anatomy) A bony, often sharp, protuberance, especially that of the ischium.
    • c. 1918, University of California, Pamphlets on Biology: Kofoid collection, Volume 1586[4], page 692:
      The rostrum is the anterior extension of the carapace between the eyes. It ends in a more or less acute tip, or acumen, and may have a lateral spine on each side or bear a longitudinal keel (carina) on the dorsal surface.
    • 1981, Horton Holcombe Hobbs, The Crayfishes of Georgia: Issue 318 of Smithsonian contributions to zoology, Smithsonian Institution[5], page 486:
      DIAGNOSIS—Rostrum usually with marginal spines, tubercles, or angles at base of acumen, and rarely with low medina carina.
    • 1993, Biological Society of Washington, Smithsonian Institution, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Volume 106[6], page 351:
      Variations.—Most specimens examined have concave rostral margins that taper to the acumen and the rostral length is greater than the rostral width.

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Further reading[edit]



From acuō (make sharp or pointed, sharpen) +‎ -men (noun-forming suffix), from acus (a needle, a pin).



acūmen n (genitive acūminis); third declension

  1. a sharpened point


Third-declension noun (neuter, imparisyllabic non-i-stem).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative acūmen acūmina
Genitive acūminis acūminum
Dative acūminī acūminibus
Accusative acūmen acūmina
Ablative acūmine acūminibus
Vocative acūmen acūmina

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  • Galician: gume
  • Portuguese: gume


  • acumen”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • acumen”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • acumen in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[7], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • penetration; sagacity: ingenii acumen