From Late Middle English acūte (“of a disease or fever: starting suddenly and lasting for a short time; of a humour: irritating, sharp”), from Latin acūta, from acūtus (“sharp, sharpened”), perfect passive participle of acuō (“to make pointed, sharpen, whet”), from acus (“needle, pin”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eḱ- (“sharp”). The word is cognate to ague (“acute, intermittent fever”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əˈkjuːt/
- (General American) enPR: ə-kyo͞ot′, IPA(key): /əˈkjut/
Audio (GA) (file) Audio (AU) (file)
- Rhymes: -uːt
- Brief, quick, short.
- 2013 July-August, Philip J. Bushnell, “Solvents, Ethanol, Car Crashes & Tolerance: How Risky is Inhalation of Organic Solvents?”, in American Scientist, Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Sigma Xi, ISSN 0003-0996, OCLC 231015383, archived from the original on 19 June 2013:
- Surprisingly, this analysis revealed that acute exposure to solvent vapors at concentrations below those associated with long-term effects appears to increase the risk of a fatal automobile accident. Furthermore, this increase in risk is comparable to the risk of death from leukemia after long-term exposure to benzene, another solvent, which has the well-known property of causing this type of cancer.
- High or shrill.
- Antonym: grave
- an acute accent or tone
- 1751, “a Lover of the Mathematicks” [pseudonym; Nathaniel Whittemore?], “Part II. New Paradoxes Solved.”, in A Mathematical Miscellany, in Four Parts. […], London: Printed for M. Cooper, […], OCLC 931756039, paradox 61, stanza III, page 53:
- The nimble Fly's Wings quicker were / Than those of her Competitor [a bee], / As may by this appear; / For an acuter Tone they made, / And in a ſharper Key they play'd, / (Which made the matter clear.)
- 1851, William C. Larrabee, “Lecture X. Evidences of Design from the Structure and Adaptations of the External Senses.”, in B[enjamin] F[ranklin] Tefft, editor, Lectures on the Scientific Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, Cincinnati, Oh.: Published by L. Swormstedt & J. H. Power, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, […]; R. P. Thompson, printer, OCLC 4596096, paragraph 233, page 177:
- The acuteness of sound in stringed instruments depends on three circumstances—length, thickness, and tension. The shorter, smaller, and tighter a string, the more acute the sound. […] In the violin, when you desire an acute sound, you tighten the string. When you wish a loud sound, you draw the bow over the strings heavily.
- Intense, sensitive, sharp.
- Synonyms: keen, powerful, strong
- Antonyms: dull, obtuse, slow, witless
- She had an acute sense of honour. Eagles have very acute vision.
- 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter II, in Pride and Prejudice, volume III, London: […] T[homas] Egerton […], OCLC 38659585, pages 37–38:
- Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings.
- 1912, Fyodor Dostoevsky; Constance Garnett, transl., “Elders”, in The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue (Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky; 1), London: W[illiam] Heinemann, OCLC 5234211; republished as The Brothers Karamazov, New York, N.Y.: The Modern Library, , OCLC 3216382, page 32:
- It was at this time that the discord between Dmitri and his father seemed at its acutest stage and their relations had become insufferably strained.
- 2013, Thomas Keneally, Shame and the Captives, North Sydney, N.S.W.: Random House Australia, →ISBN; 1st Atria Books hardcover edition, New York, N.Y.: Atria, 2015, →ISBN, page 87:
- Then, at three, for Neville's sake and for the sake of her marriage as undernourished and spectral as it had been rendered by absence, its substance being all in the future, and an honest hope of hearing some news or of extending solace to other women, not least those with children, who seemed each to have an acuter sense of the man she was missing than Alice had of Neville, she attended the Friday meeting for wives and mothers of prisoners of war at the School of the Arts.
- 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Chase—First Day”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 601:
- […] Ahab rapidly ordered the ship's course to be slightly altered, and the sail to be shortened. The acute policy dictating these movements was sufficiently vindicated at daybreak, by the sight of a long sleek on the sea directly and lengthwise ahead, smooth as oil, and resembling in the pleated watery wrinkles bordering it, the polished metallic-like marks of some swift tide-rip, at the mouth of a deep, rapid stream.
- (botany) With the sides meeting directly to form an acute angle (at an apex or base).
- Antonym: obtuse
- 2007 April 24, R[obert] J[ames] Chinnock, “Taxonomic Treatment of the Family Myoporaceae R. Br.”, in Eremophila and Allied Genera: A Monograph of the Plant Family Myoporaceae, Dural Delivery Centre, N.S.W.: Rosenberg Publishing, →ISBN, section XXV (Eremophila sec. Pulchrisepalae (12 spp.)), page 622:
- 204. Eremophila abietina […] Corolla 23–35 mm long, cream or very pale lilac, lobes faintly metallic bluish green or lilac, tube occasionally brownish, prominently purple spotted; outer and inner surfaces glandular-pubescent; lobes acute, lobe of lower lip strongly reflexed.
- (geometry) Of an angle: less than 90 degrees.
- Antonym: obtuse
- The teacher pointed out the acute angle.
- 1850 March 30, J[ohn] H[all] Gladstone, “On Chlorophosphuret of Nitrogen and Its Products of Decomposition”, in Henry Watts, editor, The Quarterly Journal of the Chemical Society of London, volume III, number X, London: Hippolyte Bailliere, […], published 1851, OCLC 848175490, part I, page 138:
- Chlorophosphuret of nitrogen (at ordinary temperatures) is a solid crystalline body. […] The form of the crystals, as obtained by sublimation, is that of a rhomboid, of which the obtuse angle measures 131° or 132°, the acute 48° or 49°: the acute angle of this rhomboid, either at one or both ends, is often truncated, when of course the angle formed is about 114°: the hexagonal prism is also found.
- (geometry) Of a triangle: having all three interior angles measuring less than 90 degrees.
- 1997, Joen Wolfrom, “The Fascination of Shapes”, in The Visual Dance: Creating Spectacular Quilts, Lafayette, Calif.: C&T Publishing, →ISBN; republished Lafayette, Calif.: C&T Publishing, 2009, →ISBN, page 39:
- In order to be an acute triangle, all three angles of a triangle must be less than 90°. These triangles can have very prickly personalities. So, if you want to create images of porcupines, rugged mountains, or narrow pine trees in your geometric design, you may best do it by using acute triangles […]. The most commonly used acute triangle in quiltmaking is the equilateral triangle […]. All three of its angles are 60°.
- (linguistics, chiefly historical) Of an accent or tone: generally higher than others.
- 1804, William Mitford, “Section IV. Of Tones or Accents, and Emphasis in English Speech, and of Their Connection with the Time or Quantity of Syllables.”, in An Inquiry into the Principles of Harmony in Language, and of the Mechanism of Verse, Modern and Antient, 2nd edition, London: Printed by Luke Hansard, […], for T[homas] Cadell and W[illiam] Davies, […], OCLC 156111119, pages 57–58:
- Let this [the word alalal] be ſpoken as an Engliſh word, with the ſtrong accent on either ſyllable, or, on each, in repeating the word; and, no change of articulation diſturbing the ear, it will be abundantly evident that, with ordinary Engliſh pronunciation, the strengthened syllable has always the acuter tone, or, in muſical phraſe, the higher note.
- (medicine) Of an abnormal condition of recent or sudden onset, in contrast to delayed onset; this sense does not imply severity, unlike the common usage.
- He dropped dead of an acute illness.
- 1995, G. J. Kaloyanides, “Drug-induced Acute Renal Failure”, in Rinaldo Bellomo and Claudio Ronco, editors, Acute Renal Failure in the Critically Ill (Update in Intensitve Care and Emergency Medicine; 20), Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-79244-1, →ISBN, page 204:
- Of particular relevance to the ICU [intensive care unit] setting is ketorolac, a NSAID [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug] that is being increasingly used for pain control in order to avoid problems of respiratory depression, sedation, and addiction associated with narcotics. […] ICU patients, who typically are under great stress from an acute illness that is often accompanied by multiorgan dysfunction including renal insufficiency, are especially prone to develop renal complications from ketorolac […].
- (medicine) Of a short-lived condition, in contrast to a chronic condition; this sense also does not imply severity.
- Antonym: chronic
- The acute symptoms resolved promptly.
- 2013 May–June, Katie L. Burke, “In the News: Bat News”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Sigma Xi, ISSN 0003-0996, OCLC 231015383, archived from the original on 5 June 2017, page 193:
- Bats host many high-profile viruses that can infect humans, including severe acute respiratory syndrome and Ebola. A recent study explored the ecological variables that may contribute to bats’ propensity to harbor such zoonotic diseases by comparing them with another order of common reservoir hosts: rodents.
- (orthography) After a letter of the alphabet: having an acute accent.
- The last letter of ‘café’ is ‘e’ acute.
- 2007, Geoff[rey J. S.] Hart, “Editing in Special Situations”, in Effective Onsceen Editing: New Tools for an Old Profession, Pointe-Claire, Que.: Diaskeuasis Publishing, →ISBN, page 404:
- A more conservative approach, particularly if your author is a skilled computer user, would be to replace the problem characters with simple words or codes that are guaranteed to transfer successfully between computers. For example, you could replace é with e-acute if that particular character is causing problems. […] The author could then do a search and replace to change all instances of e-acute back to é before publication.
- 2017, [Michael] Mitchell; [Susan] Wightman, “Foreign Languages”, in Typographic Style Handbook, London: MacLehose Press, →ISBN, section 10.2.1 (Commonly Used Accents), page 143:
- Commonly used European accents are available as below: / á Á a acute / […] / é É e acute / […] / í Í i acute / […] / ó Ó o acute / […] / ú Ú u acute
acute (plural acutes)
- (medicine) A person who has the acute form of a disorder, such as schizophrenia.
- 1990, Gerry Fewster, “Down to Business”, in Being in Child Care: A Journey into Self, Binghamton, N.Y.; London: The Haworth Press, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.; Hove, East Sussex: Routledge, 2012, →ISBN, page 113:
- Anne Marie had been assigned a ‘constant supervision’ status. […] Always avoiding the unrest of the television lounge, she would sometimes join some of the older ‘acutes’ who sat isolated in metal chairs at the end of the hallway and gaze out of the window with them.
- (linguistics, chiefly historical) An accent or tone higher than others.
- Antonym: grave
- 1827, Uvedale Price, “Restoration of Ancient Accent Impossible”, in An Essay on the Modern Pronunciation of the Greek and Latin Languages, Oxford: Printed by W. Baxter, OCLC 20216673, page 206:
- 1869–1870, William D[wight] Whitney, “II.—On the Nature and Designation of the Accent in Sanskrit.”, in Transactions of the American Philological Association, Hartford, Conn.: Published by the [American Philological] Association; printed by Case, Lockwood & Brainard, published 1871, OCLC 643390955, pages 40–41:
- There would be no sense in our assuming that even an independent circumflex after an acute might be raised in pitch for the sake of clearer distinction from that acute; for it is sufficiently distinguished by its sliding tone; and, if it had any right to be further distinguished, an acute following an acute would have much more right; while, nevertheless, any number of acutes are allowed to succeed one another, without modification of their natural character.
- (orthography) An acute accent (´).
- The word ‘cafe’ often has an acute over the ‘e’.
- 1817 June, John Farey, Sen., “CI. On Mr. Listons, or the Euharmonic Scale of Musical Intervals, […]”, in Alexander Tilloch, editor, The Philosophical Magazine and Journal: […], volume XLIX, number 230, London: Printed by Richard and Arthur Taylor. […], OCLC 314687878, page 445:
- The number of Notes in this Table, without either acute or grave marks (´ or `), is 75. Of those bearing one acute mark (´) it is 74, of those with two acutes (´´) 70, with three acutes (´´´ or ´3) 51, […]
- 1824, J[ohn] Johnson, “A Fount of Letter, as Considered by Letter Founders”, in Typographia, or The Printers’ Instructor: […], volume II, London: Published by Messrs. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, […], OCLC 489871362, page 34:
- The five vowels marked with acutes over them, it is probable, were first contrived to assist the ignorant monks in reading the church service, that by this means they might arrive to a proper and settled pronunciation in the discharge of their sacerdotal duties; […]
- (transitive, phonetics) To give an acute sound to.
- He acutes his rising inflection too much.
- 1696, [William] Lily; W. T., “Prosodia Examin’d and Explain’d by Question and Answer”, in Lily, Improved, Corrected, and Explained; with the Etymological Part of the Common Accidence, London: Printed for R. Bentley, […], OCLC 838404801, page 151:
- Polyſyllables having their Penultima long by poſition are acuted; as Camíllus: but having it long by nature and the last ſhort, they are circumflected; as, Românus, amâre: except the Compounds of ſit, whose Ultima is acuted; as Malefít, calefít, benefít, ſatisfít.
- 1762, John Foster, “On the Accent of the Old Greeks. […]”, in An Essay on the Different Nature of Accent and Quantity, with Their Use and Application in the Pronunciation of the English, Latin, and Greek Languages; […], Eton, Berkshire: Printed by J. Pote; […], OCLC 702647599, pages 103–104:
- This word ωροπαροξύνον has been generally underſtood, before Dr. G[ally] undertook to explain it otherwiſe, to ſignify "acuting the antepenultima."
- 1859, John Kelly, “On the Pronunciation of the Manks Letters”, in A Practical Grammar of the Antient Gaelic, or Language of the Isle of Man, usually Called Manks. […] (Manx Society series; 2), Douglas, Isle of Man: Printed for the Manx Society, OCLC 29134267; reprinted London: Bernard Quaritch, […], 1870, OCLC 29380641, page 4:
- O is a broad vowel. When acuted, it is pronounced as o in gone; thus, cron, son; when circumflexed, as o in bone; thus, ôney. And thus it answers to the Greek Omicron and Omega.
- 1874, John Stuart Blackie, “On the Place and Power of Accent in Language”, in Horæ Hellenicæ: Essays and Discussions on Some Important Points of Greek Philology and Antiquity, London: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 702335519, paragraph 4, page 347:
- That the acute accent meant stress is plain from the inherited intonation of the modern Greeks; […] and, if any person objects that the modern Greek not only acutes the last syllables of these words, but makes their quantity long, this is all in favour of my argument; […]
- (transitive, archaic) To make acute; to sharpen, to whet.
- 1732, John Floyer; Edward Baynard, “[The Appendix.] The Other Cure Wrought by the Cold Bath, was upon Mrs. Taylor, a Young Gentlewoman that Boarded at My Father’s”, in ΨΥΧΡΟΛΟΥΣΙ´Α [PSYCHROLOUSIA]: Or, The History of Cold-bathing, both Ancient and Modern. In Two Parts. […], 6th edition, London: Printed for W[illiam] Innys and R. Manby, […], OCLC 561191015, part II (Of Cold Baths), pages 476–477:
- [A]n old Farmer […] uſed, when fuddled over Night, to walk naked, or only in his Shirt, until he had cooled himſelf throughly, […] This Courſe may not be improperly call'd a Balenum Aerium, and may be of great Uſe to ſober People, as well as the Fuddlers; for running empty, after Sleep and Concoction, warms the Blood and Spirits, acutes the Circulations, fans and cools the Lungs, helps both Excretion and Secretion; […]
- 2010, R. J. Cyle, The Verticord: Turner of Hearts, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 36:
- It had been over a week that I had not been over to visit my most favorable place. Since I was allowed a rare opening that jaggled an intense curiosity, it acuted my senses with great anticipation that a living current was felt in my center, brought on by something truly new.
acute (not comparable)