per·​cep·​tion | \ pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio) \

Definition of perception

1a : a result of perceiving : observation
b : a mental image : concept
2 obsolete : consciousness
3a : awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation color perception
b : physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience
4a : quick, acute, and intuitive cognition : appreciation
b : a capacity for comprehension

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Other Words from perception

perceptional \ pər-​ˈsep-​shnəl How to pronounce perceptional (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for perception

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art). the discernment to know true friends discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent. the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling). a novelist of keen perception into human motives penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial. lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy. a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment. a director of reliable box-office acumen

Examples of perception in a Sentence

It is ironic that the impact of smoking on nonsmokers, rather than on smokers themselves, is what finally transformed the regulation and cultural perception of the cigarette. — Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007 Some drugs cause blurred vision and changes in color perception, or increased tears. — Sallie Tisdale, Harper's, June 2007 The urge of these acolytes is not dramatic but mercantile—to traduce all personal history, to subvert all perception or insight, into gain, or the hope of gain. — David Mamet, Jafsie and John Henry Essays, 1999 Everything is research for the sake of erudition. No one is taught to value himself for nice perception and cultivated taste. — Robert Frost, letter, 2 Jan. 1915 a writer of considerable perception, she remembers how it feels to be confused and insecure a growing perception of the enormity of the problem
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Recent Examples on the Web Their value depends entirely on the perception of the wearer. Julian Chokkattu, Wired, "A Luxury Smartwatch Won't Last Forever. That's Not the Point," 17 Mar. 2020 This unusual arrangement has helped raise awareness about this organization, given workers a chance to hang out with the Pistons and changed perceptions on both sides. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Why Detroit Pistons are walking around wearing coats made by the homeless," 8 Mar. 2020 Change comes fast in the craft beer world, and to someone accustomed to only drinking German and American pale lagers, the perception that craft beer doesn’t taste like beer is reality. Matt Koesters,, "Bockfest is Cincinnati's showcase of German culture, but German beer is here all year," 27 Feb. 2020 But the new team at the new Westin (some drawn from their work at the JW Marriott downtown) is working hard to change perceptions about Med Center hospitality. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "First look: Terrace 54 Bar + Table in Med Center," 11 Feb. 2020 Did these messages developed by a nonprofit organization change the perceptions of coastal residents who live in low-lying areas about the threat of coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise? Risa Palm, The Conversation, "‘Sea-level rise won’t affect my house’ – even flood maps don’t sway Florida coastal residents," 7 Feb. 2020 Alabama’s dynastic shine is gone, and Clemson is the new undisputed king of this sport built on perception and sales pitches. Joseph Goodman |, al, "With a new decade, there is a new king of college football," 23 Dec. 2019 For the long-term strength of the Constitution and the rule of law, much turns on the public perception of why the Senate might choose not to remove Trump. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "Is Trump Above the Law?," 19 Dec. 2019 The perception is inaccurate, Townsend and his peers say. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, "Under new leadership, Iroquois High School is pushing back on its negative image," 19 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perception.' 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 perception

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for perception

Latin perception-, perceptio act of perceiving, from percipere — see perceive

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Time Traveler for perception

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for perception

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perception.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for perception


How to pronounce perception (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of perception

: the way you think about or understand someone or something
somewhat formal : the ability to understand or notice something easily
somewhat formal : the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses


per·​cep·​tion | \ pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio) \

Kids Definition of perception

1 : a judgment resulting from awareness or understanding Visiting the beautiful park changed her perception of the city.
2 : the ability to understand (as meanings and ideas) He's a child of remarkable perception.
3 : understanding or awareness gained through the use of the senses depth perception


per·​cep·​tion | \ pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio) \

Medical Definition of perception

: awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation color perception some sensation of perception of the extremity after amputation is felt by 98% of patientsOrthopedics & Traumatic Surgery — compare sensation sense 1a

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