What's in a Word | All Blogs


An acute, cute cat

By Debra Dobbins

Garfield might feel better about being called cute if he knew that the word is an abbreviated form of “acute,” which meant being mentally sharp nearly 300 years ago.

“Cute is a good example of how a shortened form of a word can take on a life of its own, developing a sense that dissociates it from the longer word from which it was derived,” The Free Dictionary* notes. “Cute was originally a shortened form of acute in the sense ‘keenly perceptive or discerning, shrewd.’ In this sense cute is first recorded in a dictionary published in 1731. Probably cute came to be used as a term of approbation for things demonstrating acuteness, and so it went on to develop its own sense of ‘pretty, fetching,’ first recorded with reference to ‘gals’ in 1838.”

*www.thefreedictionary.com/cutely

Illustration special to the Sentinel
 

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