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 First, the trademark is not capable of being perceived as such by consumers, as the artwork is used so intensively and commonly by a multitude of entities that sell products reproducing Banksy’s art. Enrico Bonadio, Quartzy, "Banksy’s trademark battle exposes a huge hypocrisy in his anti-copyright views," 11 Oct. 2019 Smucker has been adjusting its portfolio, partly to meet consumers’ interest in food that is perceived to be fresher and healthier. Nat Ives, WSJ, "Smucker Says Marketing Shake-Up Saved It From Boring Ads," 7 Jan. 2020 But brafitters say that D cups, when properly fit, are for breasts generally perceived to be small, and that many women wearing them might prefer the fit of E, F, G, or H cups (and beyond). Amanda Cormier, New York Times, "The Best Bras Might Be Made in Poland," 25 Dec. 2019 The practice is problematic, controversial, and almost inevitably devolves into violence, as certain protesters target those perceived to be opponents. Mary Hui, Quartz, "The Cantonese words at the heart of Hong Kong’s 2019 protest vocabulary," 23 Dec. 2019 The foods Uber Eats expects to be most in demand next year include oat milk, the savory noodle soup known as udon, and foods made with ingredients perceived to be health boosters like collagen. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "Cauliflower? Kimchi? Pho? They're what's for dinner in 2020," 19 Dec. 2019 When his killer was sentenced to seven years, riots broke out over what many perceived to be a lenient sentence. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "The Navy is building a ship named after Harvey Milk, six decades after he was pushed out of the military because of his sexual orientation," 16 Dec. 2019 Maternal stress related to killings perceived as unjust or discriminatory may be contributing to the observed health impacts on black infants, Legewie says. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Police Killings of Unarmed Black Americans May Affect Health of Black Infants," 4 Dec. 2019 But Diaz noted a larger problem lies in downplaying opponents perceived to be weaker. David Furones,, "Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz on what went wrong in ‘especially embarrassing’ loss to FIU," 25 Nov. 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

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perceive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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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).


to express in a more acceptable way

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