per·​spi·​ca·​cious ˌpər-spə-ˈkā-shəs How to pronounce perspicacious (audio)
: of acute mental vision or discernment : keen
perspicaciously adverb
perspicaciousness noun
perspicacity noun

Did you know?

Some perspective on perspicacious: the word combines the Latin perspicac- (from perspicax meaning “clear-sighted,” which in turn comes from perspicere, “to see through”) with the common English adjective suffix -ious. The result is a somewhat uncommon word used to describe someone (such as a reader or observer) or something (such as an essay or analysis) displaying the perception and understanding of subtleties others tend to miss, such as the distinctions between the words perspicacious, shrewd, sagacious, and astute—something our synonym chooser can help with.

Choose the Right Synonym for perspicacious

shrewd, sagacious, perspicacious, astute mean acute in perception and sound in judgment.

shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness and judgment.

a shrewd judge of character

sagacious suggests wisdom, penetration, and farsightedness.

sagacious investors got in on the ground floor

perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and understand what is puzzling or hidden.

a perspicacious counselor saw through the child's facade

astute suggests shrewdness, perspicacity, and diplomatic skill.

an astute player of party politics

Examples of perspicacious in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With the help of friends in the publishing world, Jaffrey’s draft landed in the hands of the perspicacious Knopf editor Judith Jones in 1971. Mayukh Sen, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 Photographs show Pym looking jolly and perspicacious, with charmingly crooked English teeth. Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker, 30 May 2022 This particular Ferrari F50 was delivered new, in 1996, to Étienne Léandri, a defense lawyer and perspicacious Ferrari collector from Monaco. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 7 Mar. 2022 As some of the nation’s most perspicacious observers have noted, self-regulation is a crucial component of fixing what’s wrong with social media. Gilad Edelman, Wired, 30 Sep. 2021 Parker also knits in a perspicacious take on the toxicity of the royal family, most particularly the poisonous effect of the institution and the vulturous press. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 31 Aug. 2021 Some of the film’s performances are merely peculiar and others merely apt, but Cheadle is thrilling, with coiled strength and a perspicacious gaze that seems to realize ideas in motion. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 1 July 2021 National Review Institute enables the perspicacious endeavors of twelve NRI fellows and three young journalism fellows. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 29 June 2021 Corey is freed and making his way to Paris, Vogel escapes, and the perspicacious Corey—while being pursued by his gangland enemies—brings Vogel in on the jewelry-store scheme. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 25 June 2021 See More

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

Word History


Latin perspicac-, perspicax, from perspicere

First Known Use

1640, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of perspicacious was in 1640


Dictionary Entries Near perspicacious

Cite this Entry

“Perspicacious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


per·​spi·​ca·​cious ˌpər-spə-ˈkā-shəs How to pronounce perspicacious (audio)
: having or showing keen understanding
perspicaciously adverb
perspicacity noun

More from Merriam-Webster on perspicacious

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