Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective per·spic·u·ous \pər-ˈspi-kyə-wəs\

Definition of perspicuous

  1. :  plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation <a perspicuous argument>


play \ˌpər-spə-ˈkyü-ə-tē\ noun


play \pər-ˈspi-kyə-wəs-lē\ adverb



Examples of perspicuous in a sentence

  1. <believing that poetry need not be as perspicuous as prose, he writes poems that are intentionally ambiguous>

Did You Know?

Perspicuous is based on Latin perspicere, meaning "to see through," so that which is perspicuous is clear and understandable. "Perspicuous" has a close cousin, "perspicacious," which is used of a person with astute insight. Both words come directly from Latin adjectives that mean the same thing they do: "perspicuous" from "perspicuus," and "perspicacious" from "perspicax." Needless to say, it's possible to confuse the two. One easy way to keep out of trouble is to think of "perspicUous" as the "U" word, and remember that it means "Understandable" - in contrast to the "A" word, "perspicAcious," which means "Astute."

Origin and Etymology of perspicuous

Latin perspicuus transparent, perspicuous, from perspicere

First Known Use: 1586

Synonym Discussion of perspicuous

clear, transparent, translucent, limpid mean capable of being seen through. clear implies absence of cloudiness, haziness, or muddiness <clear water>. transparent implies being so clear that objects can be seen distinctly <a transparent sheet of film>. translucent implies the passage of light but not a clear view of what lies beyond <translucent frosted glass>. limpid suggests the soft clearness of pure water <her eyes were limpid pools of blue>.

clear, perspicuous, lucid mean quickly and easily understood. clear implies freedom from obscurity, ambiguity, or undue complexity <clear instructions>. perspicuous applies to a style that is simple and elegant as well as clear <a perspicuous style>. lucid suggests a clear logical coherence and evident order of arrangement <a lucid explanation>.

Seen and Heard

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