adjective sa·ga·cious \ sə-ˈgā-shəs , si- \

Definition of sagacious

1 obsolete : keen in sense perception
2 a : of keen and farsighted penetration and judgment : discerning
  • sagacious judge of character
b : caused by or indicating acute discernment
  • sagacious purchase of stock





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Examples of sagacious in a Sentence

  1. … the winner is praised for his sagacious grasp of the hopes and anxieties of the public, the loser is excoriated for the many and obvious blunders that derailed his candidacy … —Hendrik HertzbergNew Yorker18 Dec. 2000
  2. It has allowed him to pre-empt conservative political attacks, to appear sagacious despite his inexperience … —Alan TonelsonAtlanticJune 1993
  3. With commendably sagacious foresight, I sneaked spoils as well to the elders of key Judean cities whose good will I was cultivating for the future … —Joseph HellerGod Knows1984
  4. It has been suggested that we go to sleep at night because it is then too dark to do anything else; but owls, who are a venerably sagacious folk, do not sleep in the night-time. —James StephensThe Crock of Gold1912
  5. a sagacious critique of the current social climate in our nation

Recent Examples of sagacious from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sagacious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Surprising Root of sagacious

You might expect the root of sagacious to be sage, which means "wise" or "wise man," but that wouldn't be a wise assumption. Despite their similarities, the two words are not all that closely related. Sagacious traces back to sagire, a Latin verb meaning "to perceive keenly." It's also related to the Latin adjective sagus ("prophetic"), which is the ancestor of our verb seek. Etymologists believe that sage comes from a different Latin verb, sapere, which means "to taste," "to have good taste," or "to be wise."

Hidden Meaning of sagacious

Sagacious entered the English language around the beginning of the 17th century and, for some decades, referred to perceptiveness of sight, taste, and especially, smell. One of the first authors to use the word, Edward Topsell, wrote in 1607 of bees searching for something with “a most sagacious smelling-sence.” Sagacious has largely lost the sense (no pun intended) of being keen in sensory perception, and now almost exclusively means "of keen judgment, discerning.” The upshot is that English has words for the state of possessing acute vision (such as far-sighted) and a fine sense of touch (such as sensitive), but lacks any adjectives describing an excellent sense of smell.

Origin and Etymology of sagacious

Latin sagac-, sagax, from sagire to perceive keenly; akin to Latin sagus prophetic — more at seek

Synonym Discussion of sagacious

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

SAGACIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of sagacious for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing an ability to understand difficult ideas and situations and to make good decisions

SAGACIOUS Defined for Kids


adjective sa·ga·cious \ sə-ˈgā-shəs \

Definition of sagacious for Students

: quick and wise in understanding and judging

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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