perspicacious was our Word of the Day on 09/05/2011. Hear the podcast!
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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.
Origin and Etymology of perspicacious
Latin perspicac-, perspicax, from perspicere
First Known Use: 1640
Synonym Discussion of perspicacious
PERSPICACIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of perspicacious for English Language Learners
: having or showing an ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious
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