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

That may be because color perception is (a) inherently subjective, and (b) there are many different types of color blindness, and EnChroma's product will interact with them in complicated ways. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Spanish scientists: EnChroma glasses won’t fix your color blindness," 6 Nov. 2018 This forward-looking perception is something that Ford is eagerly trying to cultivate. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "Detroiters flock to see train station; Monday added to open house," 22 June 2018 Despite this perception, nearly 1 in 4 Latino Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, according to the most recent Gallup poll. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "To solve his immigration crisis, Trump turns to a table of white men," 21 June 2018 But as Alison Flood reports for the Guardian, the recent publication of Einstein’s travel diaries have complicated this perception of him as a staunch humanitarian. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Einstein’s Travel Diaries Reveal His Deeply Troubling Views on Race," 18 June 2018 Last year, another study found that African American girls are perceived as less innocent and more deserving of punishment than white girls — and that this perception begins by 5 years old. Fatima Varner, star-telegram, "This Father’s Day, let's resolve to speak honestly with our children about race," 17 June 2018 There’s the normal struggling with your self-image that happens as a teenager, and then there’s an extreme level of it where there’s this perception that nobody likes you. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "My Life With Borderline Personality Disorder," 13 June 2018 The whole state' McCaskill has worked to dispel this perception in recent weeks. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Cory Booker campaigns for McCaskill as she, Hawley work to shore up their bases | The Kansas City Star," 19 May 2018 Legitimate human users — the only ones capable of responding to the advertising that is the main source of revenue for the company — are central to Twitter's stock price and broader perceptions of a company that has struggled to generate profits. Craig Timberg And Elizabeth Dwoskin,, "Twitter is sweeping out fake accounts like never before, putting user growth at risk," 7 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

16 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for perception

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

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More Definitions for perception



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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Comments on perception

What made you want to look up perception? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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