Meaning of ACUTE in English


a ‧ cute /əˈkjuːt/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: past participle of acuere 'to sharpen' , from acus 'needle' ]

1 . PROBLEM an acute problem is very serious:

The housing shortage is more acute than first thought.

2 . FEELING an acute feeling is very strong:

acute pain

acute embarrassment

acute anxiety

3 . ILLNESS technical an acute illness or disease quickly becomes very serious OPP chronic :

acute arthritis

4 . SENSES acute senses such as hearing, taste, touch etc are very good and sensitive:

Young children have a particularly acute sense of smell.

5 . INTELLIGENT quick to notice and understand things SYN sharp :

Simon’s vague manner concealed an acute mind.

an acute analysis of Middle Eastern politics

6 . MATHEMATICS technical an acute angle is less than 90° ⇨ obtuse

7 . PUNCTUATION an acute ↑ accent (=a mark used to show pronunciation) is a small mark written above a vowel. In ‘café’, the letter ‘e’ has an acute accent ⇨ grave , circumflex

—acuteness noun [uncountable]

• • •


■ very bad

▪ serious very bad – used about problems, accidents, illnesses, or crimes:

Violent crime is a serious problem in and around the capital.


The boy was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.


Fortunately, the damage to the car was not serious.

▪ severe very serious – used about problems, injuries, and illnesses:

He suffered severe injuries in a car crash.


The problem became so severe that they had to bring water in from other countries.


severe epilepsy

▪ grave used about a situation that is very serious and worrying, especially because it is dangerous or seems likely to get worse:

A thick fog descended and I knew that we were in grave danger.


The situation is grave – war now seems inevitable.

▪ acute used about an illness, problem, or situation that has become very serious or dangerous, and needs to be dealt with quickly:

She was taken to the hospital suffering from acute appendicitis.


In San Diego, the shortage of skilled workers is acute.

▪ desperate used about a situation or problem that is very serious or dangerous, especially because a lot of people need urgent help:

The situation is desperate – people here need aid before the harsh winter sets in.


The hospital is full of people in desperate need of medical attention.

▪ critical used about a situation that is very serious and dangerous and might get worse suddenly:

In 1991, the food supply situation became critical.


Eight people were killed and four are still in a critical condition.

▪ life-threatening used about a situation, illness, or condition in which someone could die:

Her child had a potentially life-threatening illness.


The situation was not life-threatening, but it was very worrying.

▪ be a matter of life and death spoken to be extremely serious – used when a situation is very urgent or important:

For people living with HIV, getting the right treatment is literally a matter of life and death.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.