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verb per·ceive \pər-ˈsēv\

Simple Definition of perceive

  • : to notice or become aware of (something)

  • : to think of (someone or something) as being something stated

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of perceive


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to attain awareness or understanding of b :  to regard as being such <perceived threats> <was perceived as a loser>

  3. 2 :  to become aware of through the senses; especially :  see, observe

perceivable play \-ˈsē-və-bəl\ adjective
perceivably play \-blē\ adverb
perceiver noun

Examples of perceive in a sentence

  1. We perceive by means of the kaleidoscopic mirror of this life. This means that our ability to perceive is at one tyrannized by our expectations, and at war with them. —James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, 1985

  2. Standing in the hallway just out of sight during this interview was Sarah. She held her baby on her hip and she listened. She perceived as no one in the family could the enormity of the misfortune. —E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1974

  3. … and when they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they were so good as to play, they could do no more than make her a generous present of some of their least valued toys, and leave her to herself, while they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport of the moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper. —Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

  4. <I thought I perceived a problem, but I wasn't sure.>

  5. <perceived that it was going to be a nice day>

Origin of perceive

Middle English, from Anglo-French perceivre, from Latin percipere, from per- thoroughly + capere to take — more at heave

First Known Use: 14th century

PERCEIVE Defined for Kids


verb per·ceive \pər-ˈsēv\

Definition of perceive for Students


  1. 1 :  to become aware of through the senses and especially through sight <Perceiving the intruders in their nest the birds flew down upon them … — L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz>

  2. 2 :  to recognize or realize <I perceived a change in her attitude.>

  3. 3 :  to think of as <The message was perceived as a threat.>

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb per·ceive \pər-ˈsēv\

Medical Definition of perceive

perceived; perceiving

  1. :  to become aware of through the senses

perceivable \-ˈsē-və-bəl\play adjective
perceivably \-blē\play adverb
perceiver noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up perceive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

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