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

Claisom wants to challenge this notion and dispel people’s negative perception of insects—in particular, non-honey producing bees—by creating a children’s storybook. National Geographic, "Meet Our 2018 Grant Winners!," 10 Sep. 2019 The perception of Carlsbad’s 400-foot-tall coastal smokestack is in the eye of the beholder. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man pushes preservation of 400-foot-tall coastal smokestack," 8 Sep. 2019 The perception that net profit on a movie can amount to nothing is not uncommon and stems from the realities of how box office gross is divided: by the theaters, the distributor, the producers, etc. Nina Metz,, "Eddie Murphy’s upcoming Netflix movie about the making of ‘Dolemite’ uses the likeness of its Chicago screenwriter and his characters. His family wants to know why they weren’t involved.," 4 Sep. 2019 This renders Prime shipping much more valuable, because even if some orders are delayed, the perception of one-day shipping is very valuable, because no one else can do it. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "FedEx won’t deliver Amazon packages in the US anymore," 8 Aug. 2019 This perception is part of Urban Meyer’s record, along with three national titles and a 7-0 record against Michigan. Doug Lesmerises,, "Jim Harbaugh can’t let go of his rivalry with Urban Meyer: Buckeye Take," 18 July 2019 This perception is not new, but there’s a sharper edge now to Amazon’s refutations of these claims. Shira Ovide,, "Amazon tries to prove it’s not a Dickensian workhouse," 11 July 2019 Sometimes the perception is that things come easy to someone who is an entrepreneur, Ritchie said. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "How to pitch a business in Detroit and win $100K," 27 June 2019 As is often the case with catchers in the era of analytics, the perception of Sanchez is not always the whole story. Kristie Ackert,, "Gary Sanchez is playing old school defense, but is the new school letting him down?," 17 June 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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Statistics for perception

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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