acuto-, acut-, acuti-, acu-, -cusis; also, agu-

(Latin: sharp, to sharpen; point; needle, pin)

acuity, acumen, acute
acuity (uh KYOO uh tee) (noun)
Related to "acute", with its sense of sharpness, acuity is used with reference to any human faculty and applied to any of the five senses as well as of the mind: Senator Mathews is thought to be a man of great political acuity.

There is no doubt that tiredness affects visual acuity.

acumen (uh KYOO muhn) (noun)
1. Mental sharpness, intelligence, sagacity: Susan Bretson is a woman who has considerable business and financial acumen.
2. Quickness in understanding and dealing with a situation; keen insight: The student contestant had the acumen to figure out which version of the homograph to spell correctly.
acute (uh KYOOT) (adjective)
1. Having a sharp point: Angles of less than 90 degrees are called acute angles.
2. Extremely severe and sharp; such as, an intense pain: Tyrone is suffering from acute appendicitis.
3. Keenly perceptive or discerning, ingenious: Einstein is said to have been a man of uncommonly acute intelligence.

Megan's natural acumen in science suggested that she had an acute sense of smell and good visual acuity.

1. Pointed; covered with sharp spines.
2. Bearing a stinger, as some bees and wasps.
3. As a figure of speech: pointed, incisive, stinging.
1. Pointed, sharpened to a needle-like point; armed with prickles.
2. As a figure of speech: pointed, incisive, keen, pungent.
A state, or condition, of being sharpened or pointed.
Spine-shaped, like a prickle.
1. Little sharp-pointed spines.
2. Pointed, covered with sharp spines.
Needle-like, stinging.
1. The sting of an insect or other animal.
2. A conical elevation of the skin of a plant, becoming hard and sharp-pointed: as with the rose.
3. A hair-like projection.
acumen (AK yuh muhn, uh KYOO muhn) (s) (noun), acumens (pl)
1. Keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a situation, shrewdness; keenness of discrimination: Eve's business acumen was a critical factor in her choice as the CEO of the large corporation.
2. The ability to make quick, accurate, and intelligent judgments about people or situations; mental sharpness and intelligence: As a recent graduate in business administration, Trudy has considerable business and financial acumen.
3. Speed, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight: The student contestant had the acumen to figure out which version of the homograph to spell correctly even though the two words had the same exact pronunciation.
4. Etymology: from Latin acumen, "a point, a sting"; hence, "mental sharpness, shrewdness"; from acuere, "to sharpen".

The pronunciation (uh KYOO muhn), with the stress on the second syllable, is an older, traditional pronunciation reflecting the word's Latin origin. In recent years it has been replaced as the most common pronunciation of the word by an Anglicized variant with stress on the first syllable, (AK yuh muhn).

Word History

A keen mind may be compared to a sharp knife, which penetrates easily and quickly. For clean-cut action, both the knife and the mind must be "sharp". So it is natural that, when a word was needed to denote the faculty of keen, penetrating thought, the Latin word for "sharpness" should be borrowed.

Acuere, in Latin, means "to sharpen", and acumen means "sharpness". English borrowed acumen and used it figuratively for sharpness of the mind.

Acute, from the past participle of the same Latin verb acuere, means "sharpened, keen", and it is used broadly in a figurative sense.

Picturesque Word Origins; G. & C. Merriam Company;
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A; 1933; page 8.
Keenness in practical or intellectual matters.
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Quickness and accuracy of judgment.
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Pointed; tapering to a point or sharply pointed.
1. The action of sharpening or bringing to a point; giving a point to.
2. Tending towards a point.
Distinguished by acumen; acute.
Slightly pointed or tapering.
acuologist (s) (noun), acuologists (pl)
A specialist in the use of needles for therapeutic purposes.
acuology (s) (noun)
The study of the use of needles for therapeutic purposes, as in acupuncture.

Cross references of word families that are related directly, or indirectly, to: "sour, sharp": acerb-; aceto-; acid-; acies- (not "sour"); oxy-; pung- (not "sour").