perception

noun

per·​cep·​tion pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio)
1
a
: a result of perceiving : observation
b
: a mental image : concept
2
obsolete : consciousness
3
a
: awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation
color perception
b
: physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience
4
a
: quick, acute, and intuitive cognition : appreciation
b
: a capacity for comprehension
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
Recent Examples on the Web This perception appears to persist even amid a large influx of Bay Area transplants who moved to Sacramento during the pandemic. Shomik Mukherjee, The Mercury News, 14 Apr. 2024 Consider the perception an uninformed resident who sees a person rapidly displaying a replica firearm in a populated common area. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 11 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for perception 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perception.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near perception

Cite this Entry

“Perception.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perception. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

perception

noun
per·​cep·​tion pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio)
1
: a result of perceiving : observation
2
: awareness of surrounding objects, conditions, or forces through sensation
color perception
3
: capacity for understanding

Medical Definition

perception

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

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