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

Other Words from perception

perceptional \ pər-​ˈsep-​shnəl How to pronounce perception (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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web On both fronts, Manfred said perception was out of line with reality. New York Times, 9 May 2022 But the perception of rising prices is nearly universal. Damon Linker, The Week, 29 Apr. 2022 The answer may be both, but the perception that undergirds every shot of the film is the majestic reality that Elizabeth did not choose to be queen. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 26 Apr. 2022 The perception, however, in many countries in the region is that the disease does not pose a serious threat, certainly not as much as other pervasive health problems that demand attention with scarce health care resources. Stephanie Nolen,, 23 Apr. 2022 And yet the perception was that the Party was standing for people who did not deserve this help, and did not deserve these programs. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 19 Apr. 2022 The general perception is FAME makes their money on studio time. Matt Wake |, al, 12 Apr. 2022 The perception of how Budish’s appointment may be perceived by the city is also a concern for the county council president. Kaitlin Durbin, cleveland, 4 Apr. 2022 Any perception that Russia's war of aggression may be about to end would be highly premature. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Perception.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for perception


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

More from Merriam-Webster on perception

Nglish: Translation of perception for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perception for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about perception


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