Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
adj. cut·er, cut·est
a. Attractive or pretty in a youthful or dainty way: a cute puppy; a child wearing a cute outfit.
b. Sexually attractive; good-looking: a cute boyfriend.
2. Obviously contrived to charm; precious: "[He] mugs so ferociously he kills the humor—it's an insufferably cute performance" (David Ansen).
3. Clever or witty, especially in an impertinent or evasive way, as in falsely suggesting that one is ignorant about the matter at hand.
[Short for acute.]
Word History: Cute was originally a shortened form of acute in the sense "keenly perceptive or discerning, shrewd." In this sense cute is first recorded in a dictionary published in 1731. Probably cute came to be used as a term of approbation for things demonstrating acuteness or ingenious design, and so it went on to develop its own sense of "pretty, fetching."
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.