Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-kyu-mê-nêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Pointed or pointy, coming to a sharp point. 2. Sharp, clearly focused.

Notes: The verb is acuminate [ê-kyu-mê-nayt] "to sharpen (an object or a point in discourse)." The adjective is very common in the description of leaves that taper to a point, as 'an acuminate leaf'. It may also be used, though, to refer to anything, concrete or abstract, that comes to a point.

In Play: Have you ever wanted to call your boss a pointy-head without getting fired? Boy, do we have the word for you today! Because this word sounds so much like acumen, unless your chief is a subscriber to the Good Word, his chest will swell with pride when you say, "Learning from someone with such an acuminate head on his shoulders as you have is so rewarding." The reward is hearing yourself telling off your boss without repercussion. Of course, you may enjoy this word in the usual way, too: "I thought it a very acuminate answer she gave to Mortimer's question; it could not have been clearer."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a remake of Latin acuminatus, the past participle of acuminare "to make pointed, sharpen", akin to acumen "a point, acuteness, cunning". Acumen was derived from acuere "to sharpen", itself from acus "needle", which we also see in acupuncture. The same Proto-Indo-European word (ak- "sharp, pointed") that produced the Latin word, turned up in Greek as akis "needle". This word developed via Germanic into English edge and ear, as in ear or spike of grain. The same root metathesized to ka- and acquired the suffix -men. The stem ka-men became English hammer, German Hammer and Dutch hamer "hammer". In the Slavic languages it came to be Russian kamen', Polish kameń, and Slovak kameň "stone".

Dr. Goodword,

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