cute

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English

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Pronunciation

Etymology

Shortened from acute, originally “keenly perceptive or discerning, shrewd” (1731). Meaning transferred to “pretty, fetching” by US students (slang) c.1834. Meaning drifted further to associate specifically with the pleasing attraction to features usually possessed by the young.

Adjective

cute ‎(comparative cuter, superlative cutest)

  1. Possessing physical features, behaviors, personality traits or other properties that are mainly attributed to infants and small or cuddly animals; e.g. fair, dainty, round, and soft physical features, disproportionately large eyes and head, playfulness, fragility, helplessness, curiosity or shyness, innocence, affectionate behavior.
    Our reaction to cute attributes is understood as the way nature ensures mammals care for their young.
  2. Generally, attractive or pleasing, especially in a youthful, dainty, quaint or fun-spirited way.
    Let's go to the mall and look for cute girls.
    Emma is so damn cute.
  3. Affected or contrived to charm; mincingly clever; precious; cutesy.
    The actor's performance was too cute for me. All that mugging to the audience killed the humor.
    Don't get cute with me, boy!
  4. Mentally keen or discerning; clever; shrewd; see acute.
    • ca. 1850. Anonymous, "Turpin Hero" (broadside ballad, probably originally dating to 18th century)
      Then Turpin being so very cute,
      He hid his money in his boot.
    Cute trick, but can you do it consistently?

Usage notes

Though all the above usages are understood outside US & Canada, they are rarely used spontaneously except to characterise or parody American usage.

Derived terms

Translations


Italian

Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

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Etymology

From Latin cutis.

Noun

cute f ‎(plural cuti)

  1. (anatomy) Cutis, skin (of a person)

Synonyms

Derived terms


Latin

Noun

cute

  1. ablative singular of cutis

Romanian

Etymology

From Latin cōs, cotem.

Noun

cute f (plural cute)

  1. whetstone

Synonyms