To me I hate the word I know it is usually a compliment but I get called cute so often it makes me mad, when I think of cute in terms of people I think of short and fat. But cute used for anything else I think of it as fluffy.
The problem is there are so many different means that can be used when talking about someone in that manner so each person may have a slightly different scale as to what means exactly what to them.
However 'cute' is always still a compliment. To me cute means...well, cute...I don't know how to explain it. But it's a good thing, it's preferable in a way. I may think a girl is hot, but to me that just means she looks really good but I probably wouldn't want to be with her. I like girls to look more normal, which is kind of where cute comes in.
Also I think cute is an appropriate answer for certain situations. Such as when you meet someones boyfriend/girlfriend, you say something like like "He/She's cute", not "wow look at the fill in the blank on her, I'd like to..."
Cute means pretty. When I find a girl attractive I usually tell her she is very pretty or cute. I tend to stay away from words like, hot and sexy, reason being most woman do not like to hear those words. We tend to say cute because of our low vocabulary leave lol. Why say gorgeous when you can say cute, means the same.
Cute is one of the best compliments a guy could give you. Second to beautiful. I mean, I'd rather be called cute than 'hot'. When I think cute, I think of looking young (it's a good thing) and just being adorable. Like when people say it to you, then they just admire the way you are as a person than just a 'whole package' kinda way the word 'hot' brings.
I also think cute in a fluffy way but with animals! not humans. ehhe
When people say cute just think, gorgeous if you don't like that word. I don't hate the word but I understand what you mean :)