Acuity is figurative sharpness. In other words, acuity is the sharpness of how you see or understand things, or the sharpness of how you think, understand, or feel.
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Part of speech:
(Like "milk," "rice," and "education," uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about "some milk," "the rice," and "a lot of education," but you don’t say "a milk," "three rices," or "many educations."
Likewise, talk about "the acuity," "such acuity," "a lot of acuity," "no acuity," and so on, but don’t say "acuities.")
How to use it:
Often you talk about the acuity of something: his acuity of understanding, their acuity of wit, the acuity of her comments and suggestions.
You can also say someone has acuity in something, or acuity in doing something: his acuity in the stock market, her acuity in observing everything spoken and unspoken.
If you don't say "of" or "in" when you say "acuity," then you simply mean someone's sharp, penetrating intelligence: "The work of satire is a lasting testament to the author's acuity."
Lastly, you can specify what kind of acuity you're talking about: visual acuity, mental acuity, political acuity, psychological acuity, philosophical acuity, analytical acuity, and so on. And you can qualify this word to make it more or less intense: poor acuity, excellent acuity, underdeveloped acuity, etc.
Misheard song lyrics are some of the funniest failures of auditory acuity. For instance, I heard: "Until this guy falls down on me" instead of "Until the sky falls down on me" in Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply."
I started reading this new book about educational reform, but it turned out to be total garbage. I started questioning the mental acuity of the author midway through Chapter 1, and didn't make it past Chapter 2 at all.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "acuity" means when you can explain it without saying "keenness" or "incisiveness."
Think of the time of day when you usually feel the most mentally sharp, and fill in the blank: "My mental acuity peaks around _____."
Example: "My mental acuity peaks around 11:00am, when I'm totally awake but not yet distracted with thoughts of lunch."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
We're playing with clichés this month, examining the origins of some colorful ones. I’ll give you a cliché (some of which you might also call a proverb and/or an idiom) and pose a multiple-choice question about its origin. (I used this nifty book as a reference!)
Yesterday's question: “Batten down the hatches” means to get ready for trouble. Did this cliché come from railroad workers, seamen, or pilots?
Answer: Seamen. To batten a hatch is to nail down a strip of wood to secure the area where your cargo is stored in the ship.
Try this one today: If you “can’t hit the broad side of a barn,” then your aim is awful. Did this phrase become cliché thanks to archery, baseball, or darts?
A Point Well Made:
Aesop: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
1. The opposite of ACUITY is
2. With his age, the trademark acuity of his essays seems to have lost its _____.
A. edge B. focus
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.