per·​spic·​u·​ous pər-ˈspi-kyə-wəs How to pronounce perspicuous (audio)
: plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation
a perspicuous argument
perspicuity noun
perspicuously adverb
perspicuousness noun

Did you know?

Perspicuous is based on Latin perspicere, meaning "to see through," so that which is perspicuous is clear and understandable. Perspicuous has a close cousin, perspicacious, which is used of a person with astute insight. Both words come directly from Latin adjectives that mean the same thing they do: perspicuous from perspicuus, and perspicacious from perspicax. Needless to say, it's possible to confuse the two. One easy way to keep out of trouble is to think of perspicUous as the "U" word, and remember that it means "Understandable"—in contrast to the "A" word, perspicAcious, which means "Astute."

Choose the Right Synonym for perspicuous

clear, perspicuous, lucid mean quickly and easily understood.

clear implies freedom from obscurity, ambiguity, or undue complexity.

clear instructions

perspicuous applies to a style that is simple and elegant as well as clear.

a perspicuous style

lucid suggests a clear logical coherence and evident order of arrangement.

a lucid explanation

Examples of perspicuous in a Sentence

believing that poetry need not be as perspicuous as prose, he writes poems that are intentionally ambiguous
Recent Examples on the Web But where Hofstadter is playfully enigmatic and brashly brainy, Chalmers’s writing is perspicuous and teacherly — an approach that keeps it from collapsing into recalcitrant obscurity. Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2022 Conditions in the state the planes left behind them were far less perspicuous. The Economist, 8 Feb. 2020 The president began his Monday by scrutinizing his national security briefing, filling its margins with perspicuous questions and observations. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, 10 July 2017 Unspoken but perspicuous is the wish to (at worst) score points off Democrats and (at best) free up a seat on the nation’s most important appeals court for a nominee from the Federalist Society weapons locker. Garrett Epps, The Atlantic, 12 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perspicuous.' 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 perspicuus transparent, perspicuous, from perspicere

First Known Use

1570, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of perspicuous was in 1570


Dictionary Entries Near perspicuous

Cite this Entry

“Perspicuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


per·​spic·​u·​ous pər-ˈspik-yə-wəs How to pronounce perspicuous (audio)
: plain to the understanding : clear
: expressing oneself clearly
perspicuity noun
perspicuously adverb
perspicuousness noun

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