per·cep·tion | \pər-ˈsep-shən \

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, -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

Steinkamp’s radiant large-scale projections, which heighten and inflate natural imagery, question technology’s impact on perceptions of nature., "The week ahead: music, theater, art, and more," 13 July 2018 While the perception of interior pass-rushing value can change, Oliver is monstrous and can impact a game from five positions. Conor Orr,, "An NFL Fan’s Viewing Guide to the 2019 College Football Season," 13 July 2018 At the same time, a lot of the pot-slamming perfectionism that shapes public perception of upscale kitchens comes from television. Casey Quackenbush / Hong Kong, Time, "'We're Not Educated.' The Untold Story of Lung King Heen, the World's First Michelin Three-Star Chinese Restaurant," 12 July 2018 Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues & hopefully fix perception of those that are actually good. Rebecca Bratek, CBS News, "Elon Musk pledges to fund fixing water in Flint homes with lead contamination," 12 July 2018 The perception of drug addiction is still predicated on weakness, sin, and shame—all of which deserve punishment or justify exploitation. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues & hopefully fix perception of those that are actually good. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Will Tesla CEO Elon Musk fix Flint water?," 11 July 2018 According to YouGov, which tracks the perception of more than 1,500 brands daily through its BrandIndex, this move got people talking: IHOP's Word of Mouth Score rose in the week following its announcement. Ben Tobin, USA TODAY, "IHOP changes name back from IHOb," 9 July 2018 On the bright side, Trump is president, which gives him a lot of power and prestige to deploy in changing people’s perception of him. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Donald Trump, Bill Shine, and the problem with “triggering the libs”," 5 July 2018

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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Last Updated

28 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for perception

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

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English Language Learners Definition of perception

: the way you think about or understand someone or something

: the ability to understand or notice something easily

: the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses


per·cep·tion | \pər-ˈsep-shən \

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 \

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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