per·​spi·​ca·​cious | \ ˌpər-spə-ˈkā-shəs How to pronounce perspicacious (audio) \

Definition of perspicacious

: of acute mental vision or discernment : keen

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Other Words from perspicacious

perspicaciously adverb
perspicaciousness noun
perspicacity \ ˌpər-​spə-​ˈka-​sə-​tē How to pronounce perspicacious (audio) \ noun

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

Did You Know?

Perspicacious is similar in meaning to shrewd and astute, but a sharp mind will discern subtle differences among them. All three mean acute in perception and sound in judgment, but shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness, whereas perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and comprehend what is puzzling or hidden. (You can see this shade of meaning in the root of perspicacious - the Latin word perspicere, meaning "to look through" or "to see clearly.") Astute suggests both shrewdness and perspicacity, as well as diplomatic skill.

Examples of perspicacious in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Chude-Sokei chronicles his further missteps, advances and inner conflicts to create a moving, perspicacious account of disguising his origins, of adopting pose after pose, of seeking acceptance. Star Tribune, "Review: 'Floating in a Most Peculiar Way,' by Louis Chude-Sokei," 12 Feb. 2021 That could change pending the result of two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, an outcome that only the most perspicacious observers anticipated before this week. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Trump Broke the Internet. Can Joe Biden Fix It?," 7 Nov. 2020 How many times had the otherwise perspicacious kid failed to circle the yellow bird on the math worksheet. Ben Lerner, Harper's Magazine, "The Grove," 27 Oct. 2020 Moving on, as perspicacious readers may have noticed, the end of August 2020 was the 175th anniversary of the first issue of Scientific American. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "We Sometimes Missed the Boat—and Bridge," 20 Oct. 2020 Sorkin’s heroes are warm, clever, funny, perspicacious, and nice. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Whole Lotta Sorkin Goin’ On," 16 Oct. 2020 Genebach’s Max is a diverting wheeler-dealer, and Lolita Marie’s cool intensity, as Jay’s perspicacious sister, Nina, proves essential to the play’s message and mood. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "Timely ‘The Royale’ comes out swinging," 10 Oct. 2019 Of course, any perspicacious viewer of Rocky and Bullwinkle knew that the squirrel was the brains of the outfit. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "Squirrels Can Store the Same Kinds of Nuts in Specific Groupings," 1 Dec. 2017 The most perspicacious of the English understood that as soon as Americans started to get beyond the Appalachian mountains, we would be cut off from the motherland. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "You’re Free on Independence Day," 4 July 2019

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

1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perspicacious

Latin perspicac-, perspicax, from perspicere

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Time Traveler for perspicacious

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The first known use of perspicacious was in 1640

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Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perspicacious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of perspicacious

formal : having or showing an ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious

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