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 perceive (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ pər-​ˈsē-​və-​blē How to pronounce perceive (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 The bronze statue was meant to celebrate the emancipation of slaves, but some perceive it as subjecting oneself to Lincoln or a display of white dominance, according to the Harvard Library. Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "Boston removes statue of former slave kneeling before President Lincoln after 141 years," 29 Dec. 2020 People perceive color by factoring in a number of other variables, like the quality of the light or the other tones bordering the color. Sara Harrison, Wired, "A New Study About Color Tries to Decode ‘The Brain’s Pantone’," 24 Nov. 2020 My brain can perceive that signal and then cancel it out. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Alexey Navalny Has the Proof of His Poisoning," 18 Oct. 2020 Many wine drinkers perceive it (negatively) as sweet, though only certain Rieslings are. Lettie Teague, WSJ, "5 Intimidating Wines That Are Actually Easy to Love," 8 Oct. 2020 Generally, Democrats perceive women’s absence from politics as problematic more than Republicans. Jennifer M. Piscopo, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Women Vote: Separating Myth From Reality," 6 Oct. 2020 In these cases, nerves in the skin become hyper-sensitive to itch, and perceive as itchy stimuli that are normally painful — or simply mechanical or thermal. Katherine Harmon Courage, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Search for What Causes Chronic Itching," 10 Nov. 2020 Last year a group of researchers led by Caleb Warren, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Arizona, published a study examining what determines whether shoppers perceive a brand as cool. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Can Supreme survive its acquisition by VF Corp?," 10 Nov. 2020 Artificial sweeteners are synthetic chemicals added to foods so that our tastebuds perceive a sweet taste without adding any calories to our diet. Kaitlyn Pirie, Good Housekeeping, "The Truth About Sugar Substitutes, According to Nutritionists," 10 Nov. 2020

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

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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 perceive (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ -​blē How to pronounce perceive (audio) \ adverb
perceiver noun

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