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

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
Recent Examples on the Web Oscar 2010 Winner, Crazy Heart always says, our voice is our greatest instrument and impacts how others will hear and perceive us. Cindy Gordon, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Political reporters in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire are among the most immersed in the minutiae of the nation’s presidential selection process and help influence how voters perceive the candidates. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 Williams took to the stage in an attempt to regain control of how spectators perceive her. Shamira Ibrahim, Essence, 6 Apr. 2022 But the way y'all look at me and perceive me has changed. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 Feb. 2022 But the way y'all look at me and perceive me has changed. Daniela Avila,, 23 Feb. 2022 Experts, however, perceive some degree of exaggeration and irrational fear among customers. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 31 Mar. 2022 Slaves perceive the freedom as savagery, as danger. NBC News, 21 Mar. 2022 To what extent does the modern wearer of leopard print perceive the fashion choice as having anything to do with the wild animals that roam, in diminishing numbers, in Africa and Asia? Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Perceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for perceive


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.


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on perceive

Nglish: Translation of perceive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perceive for Arabic Speakers


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