per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving; perceives

Definition of perceive

transitive verb

1a : to attain awareness or understanding of
b : to regard as being such was perceived as a loser
2 : to become aware of through the senses especially : see, observe

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Other Words from perceive

perceivable \ pər-​ˈsē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce perceivable (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ pər-​ˈsē-​və-​blē How to pronounce perceivably (audio) \ adverb
perceiver noun

Synonyms for perceive


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Examples of perceive in a Sentence

We perceive by means of the kaleidoscopic mirror of this life. This means that our ability to perceive is at once tyrannized by our expectations, and at war with them. — James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, 1985 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 … 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 I thought I perceived a problem, but I wasn't sure. perceived that it was going to be a nice day
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Recent Examples on the Web Sunday’s forum will give her a chance to articulate her campaign pitch without the distraction of the race’s perceived front-runner on stage., "Markey set to discuss climate with Liss-Riordan - The Boston Globe," 11 Nov. 2019 The term, a viral meme among millennials and Generation Z, exploded this year on the TikTok social media app, where countless mocking videos are calling out what young people perceive as out-of-touch Baby Boomers and their patronizing opinions. Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, "A 25-year-old politician got heckled during a climate crisis speech. Her deadpan retort: 'OK, boomer'," 6 Nov. 2019 There is an unbridgeable divide in the way left and right perceive this reality. Dennis Prager, National Review, "What Underpins the Left–Right Divide," 5 Nov. 2019 Surprisingly, however, participants’ perceived exertion for the e-bike loop was much lower than for the conventional bike loop. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, "Riding an E-Bike Is Not Cheating," 1 Nov. 2019 Studies suggest apologizing can be as effective, and often cheaper, as offering compensation in improving how customers perceive a company. Natasha Frost, Quartz at Work, "What do Boeing CEO’s Dennis Muilenburg’s apologies actually mean?," 31 Oct. 2019 The researchers acknowledged in the study that the results might reflect differences in how people sing, and not in how people perceive pitch. Quanta Magazine, "Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain," 30 Oct. 2019 Stress plays a pivotal role in the ecology of wildlife species and increased perceived stressors in the wild. Neha Jain, Quartz India, "What’s stressing out tigers in India’s central reserves? Tourists," 30 Oct. 2019 Airy interiors and fun slogans are deliberately designed to act as an inviting foil against what many perceive as cold, clinical doctor’s offices. Sarah Wu, Glamour, "The Rise of the ‘Botox Bar’," 30 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perceive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of perceive

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for perceive

Middle English, from Anglo-French perceivre, from Latin percipere, from per- thoroughly + capere to take — more at heave entry 1

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Time Traveler for perceive

Time Traveler

The first known use of perceive was in the 14th century

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Statistics for perceive

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Perceive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for perceive


How to pronounce perceive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of perceive

formal : to notice or become aware of (something)
: to think of (someone or something) as being something stated


per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving

Kids Definition of perceive

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 : to recognize or realize I perceived a change in her attitude.
3 : to think of as The message was perceived as a threat.
per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving

Medical Definition of perceive

: to become aware of through the senses

Other Words from perceive

perceivable \ -​ˈsē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce perceivable (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ -​blē How to pronounce perceivably (audio) \ adverb
perceiver noun

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Comments on perceive

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


not agreeing with established beliefs

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