"keen in discernment and careful of one's self-interest," 1610s, from Latin astutus "crafty, wary, shrewd; sagacious, expert," from astus "cunning, cleverness, adroitness," which is of uncertain origin. The Romans considered it to be from Greek asty "town," borrowed into Latin and implying city sophistication (see asteism). Related: Astutely; astuteness.
An alternative form is astucious (1823), from French astucieux, from Latin astutia "astuteness." Also formerly astucity.
updated on February 24, 2017