per·​cep·​tive | \ pər-ˈsep-tiv \

Definition of perceptive

1 : responsive to sensory stimuli : discerning a perceptive eye
2a : capable of or exhibiting keen perception : observant a perceptive scholar
b : characterized by sympathetic understanding or insight

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Other Words from perceptive

perceptively adverb
perceptiveness noun
perceptivity \ (ˌ)pər-​ˌsep-​ˈti-​və-​tē \ noun

Synonyms for perceptive


acute, delicate, fine, keen, quick, sensitive, sharp

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Examples of perceptive in a Sentence

He is a very perceptive young man. due to their ability to rotate their ears, cats are very perceptive when it comes to pinpointing the source of a sound

Recent Examples on the Web

Poverty, a sexist and racist recording industry and a terrifyingly abusive relationship — with her husband and mentor Ike Turner (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, a perceptive study in anger) — only make the show’s titanic heroine bigger and stronger. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Women Set London’s Stages Ablaze," 9 July 2018 While most of the Presley experts Mr. Jarecki confers with are men (an unfortunate lapse), this otherwise generous, perceptive director, more than anything, clearly yearns to fit not only Elvis but also the whole wide world into his sweet ride. Eugene Jarecki, New York Times, "Review: ‘The King’ Chases the American Dream and Elvis," 21 June 2018 Getty; design by Katja Cho You are currently bestowed with a kind of intelligence that is both deep and unusually perceptive. Chelsea Rickling, Marie Claire, "Taurus 2016 Horoscope: A Look at Your Year Ahead," 31 Dec. 2015 Not unlike Jane Austen, to whom her last novel paid homage, Sittenfeld offers a perceptive, light and tasty depiction of human scandal and embarrassment. Kathleen Rooney,, "'You Think It,' We'll Say It: Curtis Sittenfeld knows how to write a juicy tale," 7 May 2018 And unlike many writers of maddeningly intimate description (from Marcel Proust to Doris Lessing to Edward St. Aubyn), Knausgaard circles around a mind and a life that, while intelligent, impassioned and perceptive, are ordinary. New York Times, "In Knausgaard’s ‘Spring,’ a Man Considers How Best to Help His Sick Wife," 6 July 2018 The family drama unfolds quietly in front of Sunny, their ever-perceptive housekeeper in China. Grace Z. Li, USA TODAY, "Chinese-American expat family drama sparks Lucy Tan's promising debut novel," 10 July 2018 An engaging, personal take, with lots of perceptive insights. Dan Deluca,, "Dan DeLuca's Mix Picks: Nuevofest in West Philly, Queen Of Jeans' video homage and Britney Spears in Atlantic City," 12 July 2018 Some humans are clearly more tuned in to the spiritual, mystical and unseen, while others simply lack the necessary perceptive antenna. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A cardinal's song, or a spiritual experience?," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perceptive.' 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 perceptive

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

22 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for perceptive

The first known use of perceptive was in 1652

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More Definitions for perceptive



English Language Learners Definition of perceptive

: having or showing an ability to understand or notice something easily or quickly


per·​cep·​tive | \ pər-ˈsep-tiv \

Medical Definition of perceptive

: responsive to sensory stimulus a perceptive eye

Other Words from perceptive

perceptively adverb
perceptiveness noun
perceptivity \ (ˌ)pər-​ˌsep-​ˈtiv-​ət-​ē \ noun, plural perceptivities

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Comments on perceptive

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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