Monday, October 14, 2013

Word of the Week - Acute

Nearly forgot it was Monday! LOL But lucky for you, I remembered. ;-) And so, I'm hear to talk about acute.

This will be a quick one, but I found it kinda interesting primarily because of my own weird thought-processes. See, when I was learning about angles back in middle school, I taught myself to remember that acute = under 90 degrees, because small = cute. So acute angles were small angles.

Worked well enough in math class...but not so well in vocabulary, LOL, when I began reading books that used acute in a non-math sense. When I first came across it, I naturally thought that "an acute case of the flu" meant a SMALL case of the flu.

Um, er...brilliant, Roseanna. Just brilliant. ;-)

I quickly learned I was wrong, but I never bothered looking up why. As it turns out, it's pretty simple. Acute in its math sense doesn't mean "small." It means "sharp." Makes total sense, right? The Latin acutus is "sharp, pointed." Interestingly, though, the original meaning in terms of a disease or whatnot was "coming and going quickly" more than "intense," which didn't come about until 1727. Between those two, though, was the expected "sharp, irritating" meaning that evolved by the 15th century.

Makes much more sense with the angle meaning than my "small." ;-)


  1. Interesting. I had not thought much about this word either but it makes sense. Thanks for not forgetting and sharing!

  2. You're not the only one who remembered acute that way! :). Interesting stuff!

  3. Acute = small is how I explain it to my tutoring students. They seem to understand it that way. As did I, when I was growing up. Funny how many people figured out the same way of remembering what it meant, math-wise.