per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving; perceives

Essential Meaning of perceive

1 formal : to notice or become aware of (something) I perceived [=noticed] that she had been crying. The detective perceived [=saw] a change in the suspect's attitude.
2 : to think of (someone or something) as being something stated She perceived herself as an independent woman. = She perceived herself to be an independent woman.

Full Definition of perceive

transitive verb

1a : to attain awareness or understanding of
b : to regard as being such was perceived as a loser
2 : to become aware of through the senses especially : see, observe

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Other Words from perceive

perceivable \ pər-​ˈsē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce perceive (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ pər-​ˈsē-​və-​blē How to pronounce perceive (audio) \ adverb
perceiver noun

Synonyms for perceive


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Examples of perceive in a Sentence

We perceive by means of the kaleidoscopic mirror of this life. This means that our ability to perceive is at once tyrannized by our expectations, and at war with them. — James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, 1985 Standing in the hallway just out of sight during this interview was Sarah. She held her baby on her hip and she listened. She perceived as no one in the family could the enormity of the misfortune. — E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1974 … and when they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they were so good as to play, they could do no more than make her a generous present of some of their least valued toys, and leave her to herself, while they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport of the moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper. — Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814 I thought I perceived a problem, but I wasn't sure. perceived that it was going to be a nice day
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Recent Examples on the Web Often, artists perceive the deal amount is peak value. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 15 Oct. 2021 No matter what the next normal involves, a leader's central task is to develop and deliver what customers perceive as a value. Nate Bennett, Forbes, 2 Mar. 2021 Emerging research suggests students who perceive their teachers and schools as culturally competent feel a greater sense of belonging. Ike Morgan |, al, 13 Aug. 2021 People who perceive widespread election fraud and irregularities attribute more of it to Black communities (a group that largely votes Democratic) than White communities (a group that largely votes Republican). Fred Backus, CBS News, 6 Aug. 2021 For example, dogs perceive their environment mainly with their sense of smell rather than their sight. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 July 2021 Consumers perceive heavy machinery and human transportation as much higher risk than Siri setting our alarm in the morning. James Freeze, Forbes, 5 July 2021 In Ukraine, some already perceive a U.S. betrayal of their interests. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 June 2021 His book serves as a corrective for those who perceive the freedom struggle as an undifferentiated blur of events and symbols that magically sprang up out of nowhere in the mid-1950s. Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for perceive

Middle English, from Anglo-French perceivre, from Latin percipere, from per- thoroughly + capere to take — more at heave entry 1

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Time Traveler for perceive

Time Traveler

The first known use of perceive was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for perceive


per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving

Kids Definition of perceive

1 : to become aware of through the senses and especially through sight Perceiving the intruders in their nest the birds flew down upon them …— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz
2 : to recognize or realize I perceived a change in her attitude.
3 : to think of as The message was perceived as a threat.


transitive verb
per·​ceive | \ pər-ˈsēv How to pronounce perceive (audio) \
perceived; perceiving

Medical Definition of perceive

: to become aware of through the senses

Other Words from perceive

perceivable \ -​ˈsē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce perceive (audio) \ adjective
perceivably \ -​blē How to pronounce perceive (audio) \ adverb
perceiver noun

More from Merriam-Webster on perceive

Nglish: Translation of perceive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perceive for Arabic Speakers


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