sagacious was our Word of the Day on 09/05/2016. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of sagacious in a Sentence
- … 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 Hertzberg, New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2000
- It has allowed him to pre-empt conservative political attacks, to appear sagacious despite his inexperience … —Alan Tonelson, Atlantic, June 1993
- 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 Heller, God Knows, 1984
- 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 Stephens, The Crock of Gold, 1912
a sagacious critique of the current social climate in our nation
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.
Synonymsdiscerning, insightful, perceptive, prudent, wise, sage, sapient
Related Wordsacute, penetrating, percipient, perspicacious; experienced; discriminating, discriminative; brainy, bright, brilliant, clever, intelligent, keen, nimble, quick, quick-witted, smart; cerebral, erudite, knowledgeable, learned, literate, scholarly; astute, clearheaded, piercing, sharp, shrewd; contemplative, reflective, thoughtful
Near Antonymsdense, dull, obtuse, purblind, woodenheaded; brainless, dumb, feebleminded, foolish, idiotic (also idiotical), imbecile (or imbecilic), knuckleheaded, moronic, silly, simple, slow, slow-witted, stupid, thoughtless, unintelligent, witless; undiscriminating
Synonym Discussion of sagacious
- a shrewd judge of character
- sagacious investors got in on the ground floor
- a perspicacious counselor saw through the child's facade
- an astute player of party politics
SAGACIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
SAGACIOUS Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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