"Acumen" is closely related to our recent noun "a_____," meaning "the sharpness of how you see or understand things, or the sharpness of how you think, understand, or feel." Both that one and today's "acumen" are related to "acute," also. What basic idea do all these words have in common?
make your point with...
The word "acumen" comes straight from Latin: acumen is "a point, or a sting--or less literally, a sharpness of the mind."
In English, we stick with the figurative meaning: "mental sharpness." In other words, acumen is the ability to make smart, quick judgments and choices.
Lots of ways are correct.
I prefer "ACK yuh men."
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 acumen," "such acumen," "a lot of acumen," "no acumen," and so on, but don’t say "acumens.")
How to use it:
Talk about doing something with acumen, deciding something with acumen, or accomplishing something with acumen. Some people are known for their acumen or sought after for their acumen. And you can have specific kinds: political acumen, business acumen, historical acumen, literary acumen, and so on.
Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor is really valuable for kids about to take college-level English courses. He pretty much teaches you step by step how to develop literary acumen.
I can usually spot good design when I see it, but I lack the kind of acumen needed to design stuff myself. (Templates are a blessing.)
study it now:
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "acumen" means when you can explain it without saying "sharp insight" or "keen judgment."
try it out:
Think of someone wise you know, and fill in the blanks: "I can/could always depend on (Person) for his/her (specific kind of) acumen."
Example: "We could always depend on Mom for her entrepreneurial acumen."
before you review:
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: Tell people to “hitch their wagon to a star” and you’re telling them to set high goals. Who originated this phrase: was it William Shakespeare; Meriwether Lewis, the explorer and politician; or Ralph Waldo Emerson, the essayist and poet?
Answer: It was Emerson, in an essay that’s a pretty good read if you’re interested.
Try this one today: An “embarrassment of riches” is an overabundance of a good thing. Was it Russia, Saudi Arabia, or France that gave us this cliché?
A Point Well Made:
H. L. Mencken: “The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth--that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”
review today's word:
1. The opposite of ACUMEN is
2. _____ isn't exactly known for exercising _____ acumen.
A. The valedictorian .. critical B. The popular kid .. social
C. The class clown .. scholarly
Answers are below.
a final word:
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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.
Answers to review questions:
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