Meaning of ACUTE in English


I. əˈkyüt, usu -üd.+V adjective

( sometimes -er/-est )

Etymology: Latin acutus, past participle of acuere to sharpen, from acus needle; akin to Latin acer sharp — more at edge

1. : ending in a sharp point : not blunt at the end: as

a. of an angle : measuring less than 90 degrees : not right or obtuse

fences … so laid out that acute corners are avoided — Henry Wynmalen

— see angle illustration

b. of a figure : marked by or composed of acute angles

an acute triangle

c. of a leaf apex : abruptly pointed : not tapering


a. : marked by keen shrewd discernment or intellectual perception especially of subtle distinctions : penetrating

people of acute judgment and refined sensibilities — Elinor Wylie

the fame of an acute thinker — V.L.Parrington

b. : sensing or perceiving accurately, clearly, effectively, or sensitively

acute observer

acute vision, the ability to see sharp instead of blurred, is uncommon … in the animal kingdom — A.L.Kroeber

3. of a sound : high in pitch : sharp , shrill

an acute note

4. : felt, perceived, or experienced intensely or powerfully

the stench was acute — Norman Mailer

the incident … seemed to cause … acute distress — Dorothy Sayers


a. medicine

(1) : characterized by sharpness or severity

acute pain

acute infection

(2) of a pathologic process : having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course

acute disease

acute inflammation

— opposed to chronic

(3) : for the treatment of acute diseases

an acute hospital

b. : serious, urgent, and demanding attention : intensified or aggravated nearly to a crisis, culmination, or breaking point

there was an acute shortage of houses after the war

: extreme , severe , critical


a. of an accent mark : having the form ´

b. : marked with an acute accent

an acute e in canapé

c. : of the variety indicated by an acute accent

an acute intonation


critical , crucial : acute most commonly indicates intensification, sometimes rapid, of a situation demanding notice and showing signs of some definite resolution

intimately associated with Indian affairs was the pressing question of defense. … Pontiac's rebellion made the issue acute — S.E.Morison & H.S.Commager

when the food shortage became acute in New Haven, the junior class of Yale College was moved to Glastonbury — American Guide Series: Connecticut

critical may describe an approach to a crisis or turning point and may imply an imminent outcome or resolution

the war has reached a new critical phase … we have moved into active and continuing battle — F.D.Roosevelt

the critical lack of rubber in the last war was finally beaten by the development of synthetic rubber plants capable of turning out 1,000,000 tons a year — Collier's Year Book

crucial applies to an actual crisis situation, often one viewed with fear, worry, or suspense, and implies a speedily ensuing decisive or definitive outcome

a continuous evolution, punctuated by the sudden flaming or flowering of a crucial moment now and then — J.L.Lowes

the next few months are crucial. What we do now will affect our American way of life for decades to come — H.S.Truman

Synonym: see in addition sharp .

II. noun

( -s )

: an acute accent used to show that a vowel is pronounced with a rise of pitch (as in ancient Greek), that a vowel has a certain quality (as over e in French), that a vowel is long (as in Hungarian), that a syllable has the highest degree of stress (as in Spanish or in phonetic transcription), or that a final e in a word in an English context is not silent (as in maté )

III. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: acute (II)

: to mark with an acute accent : pronounce with higher pitch

acute your inflection

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.