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adjective sa·pi·ent \ˈsā-pē-ənt, ˈsa-\

Definition of sapient

  1. :  possessing or expressing great sagacity

sapiently adverb

Examples of sapient in a sentence

  1. <an uncle who is always good for valuable insights and some sapient advice>

Did You Know?

Human beings certainly like to think they're wise, and, in fact, the term "Homo sapiens" ("humankind") comes in part from the Latin word sapiens, meaning "wise" or "intelligent." "Sapiens" in turn comes from the verb "sapere," which means "to be wise" (and which also gave us "sage" and "savant"). "Sapiens" and "sapere" are also ancestors of our adjective "sapient," of course. "Sapient" came to us from Latin by way of Middle French and has been used in English to mean "wise" since the 15th century. In recent times it also has been used in anthropological contexts to mean "characteristic of modern humans."

Origin of sapient

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin sapient-, sapiens, from present participle of sapere to taste, be wise — more at sage

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of sapient

wise, sage, sapient, judicious, prudent, sensible, sane mean having or showing sound judgment. wise suggests great understanding of people and of situations and unusual discernment and judgment in dealing with them <wise beyond his tender years>. sage suggests wide experience, great learning, and wisdom <the sage advice of my father>. sapient suggests great sagacity and discernment <the sapient musings of an old philosopher>. judicious stresses a capacity for reaching wise decisions or just conclusions <judicious parents using kindness and discipline in equal measure>. prudent suggests exercise of the restraint of sound practical wisdom and discretion <a prudent decision to wait out the storm>. sensible applies to action guided and restrained by good sense and rationality <a sensible woman who was not fooled by flattery>. sane stresses mental soundness, rationality, and levelheadedness <remained sane even in times of crises>.

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Seen and Heard

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


a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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