A Word A Day : Acumen

Friday, 31st August 2007 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : ak'yu-men

1. Keenness of judgment.

2. Keenness of insight.

3. Skill in perceiving, discriminating or judging.

4. Ability to understand and reason.

5. Quick thinking or insight.

6. A tapering point.

USAGE NOTE : The pronunciation with stress on the second syllable is an older, traditional pronunciation reflecting the word's Latin origin. In recent years it has been supplanted as the most common pronunciation of the word by an Anglicized variant with stress on the first syllable. In a recent survey, 68 percent of the Usage Panel chose this as their pronunciation, while 29 percent preferred the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable. The remaining 3 percent of the Panelists said they use both pronunciations.


Latin acumen, from acuere, to sharpen, from acus, needle.


1. Astuteness

2. Clear-Sightedness

3. Discernment

4. Discrimination

5. Keenness

6. Penetration

7. Perceptiveness

8. Percipience

9. Percipiency

10. Sagacity

11. Sageness

12. Shrewdness

13. Wit

14. Ability

15. Perspicacity


1. Denseness

2. Ignorance

3. Inability

4. Ineptness

5. Obtuseness

6. Stupidity

Contextual Example:

• Daniel approached the issues with great acumen.

• He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, of hieroglyphics; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension præternatural.

Related Words:

Acuminate : Adjective

Acumination : Noun

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