perception

noun

per·​cep·​tion pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio)
1
a
: a result of perceiving : observation
b
: a mental image : concept
2
obsolete : consciousness
3
a
: awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation
color perception
b
: physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience
4
a
: quick, acute, and intuitive cognition : appreciation
b
: a capacity for comprehension
perceptional
pər-ˈsep-shnəl How to pronounce perception (audio)
-shə-nᵊl
adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for perception

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind.

discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art).

the discernment to know true friends

discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent.

the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music

perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling).

a novelist of keen perception into human motives

penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial.

lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles

insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy.

a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless

acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment.

a director of reliable box-office acumen

Example Sentences

It is ironic that the impact of smoking on nonsmokers, rather than on smokers themselves, is what finally transformed the regulation and cultural perception of the cigarette. Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007 Some drugs cause blurred vision and changes in color perception, or increased tears. Sallie Tisdale, Harper's, June 2007 The urge of these acolytes is not dramatic but mercantile—to traduce all personal history, to subvert all perception or insight, into gain, or the hope of gain. David Mamet, Jafsie and John Henry Essays, 1999 Everything is research for the sake of erudition. No one is taught to value himself for nice perception and cultivated taste. Robert Frost, letter, 2 Jan. 1915 a writer of considerable perception, she remembers how it feels to be confused and insecure a growing perception of the enormity of the problem See More
Recent Examples on the Web For a while, NASA had to battle against a public perception that with the end of the shuttle, and end of NASA's ability to put astronauts into space, the agency itself had shuttered its doors. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 16 Nov. 2022 In its attempt to turn around public perception of the brand's historically rocky reliability, Jaguar provides warranty coverage that tops the segment. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 15 Nov. 2022 Public perception of the royal family was impacted during this time and led to a shakeup at Buckingham Palace. ELLE, 10 Nov. 2022 Despite the public perception, Kiffin denied that he was fired by Saban during an interview with Paul Finebaum. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, 10 Nov. 2022 Public perception of sustainable fashion lines has changed in the past decade, enough that now there’s a TV show highlighting creatives who can make something out of nothing. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 2 Nov. 2022 And these exclusions distort the public perception of what sciences are important. Martin Rees, Time, 27 Oct. 2022 Although public perception around marijuana has shifted significantly, organizers worry about the people who were convicted and sentenced before this more widespread acceptance. Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2022 More women, and men, have come forward to share how public perception can be manipulated to devastating effect. Mary Mcnamaraculture Columnist And Critic, Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Latin perception-, perceptio act of perceiving, from percipere — see perceive

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of perception was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near perception

Cite this Entry

“Perception.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perception. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

perception

noun

per·​cep·​tion pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio)
1
: a result of perceiving : observation
2
: awareness of surrounding objects, conditions, or forces through sensation
color perception
3
: capacity for understanding

Medical Definition

perception

noun

per·​cep·​tion pər-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce perception (audio)
: awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation
color perception
some sensation of perception of the extremity after amputation is felt by 98% of patients Orthopedics & Traumatic Surgery
compare sensation sense 1a

More from Merriam-Webster on perception

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ