[ per-spek-tiv ]
See synonyms for: perspectiveperspectives on

  1. a technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface.: Compare aerial perspective, linear perspective.

  2. a picture employing this technique, especially one in which it is prominent: an architect's perspective of a house.

  1. a visible scene, especially one extending to a distance; vista: a perspective on the main axis of an estate.

  2. the state of existing in space before the eye: The elevations look all right, but the building's composition is a failure in perspective.

  3. the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship: You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.

  4. the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship: Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.

  5. a mental view or prospect: the dismal perspective of terminally ill patients.

  1. of or relating to the art of perspective, or represented according to its laws.

Origin of perspective

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Medieval Latin perspectīva (ars) “optical (science),” perspectīvum “optical glass,” noun uses of feminine and neuter of perspectīvus “optical,” equivalent to Latin perspect(us) “looked at closely,” past participle of perspicere “to look at closely” (see per-, inspect) + -īvus -ive

Other words from perspective

  • per·spec·tiv·al, adjective
  • per·spec·tived, adjective
  • per·spec·tive·less, adjective
  • per·spec·tive·ly, adverb
  • non·per·spec·tive, noun, adjective

Words that may be confused with perspective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for perspective


/ (pəˈspɛktɪv) /

  1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance

  2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity: try to get some perspective on your troubles

  1. the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye

  2. the appearance of objects, buildings, etc, relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance

  3. a view over some distance in space or time; vista; prospect

  4. a picture showing perspective

Origin of perspective

C14: from Medieval Latin perspectīva ars the science of optics, from Latin perspicere to inspect carefully, from per- (intensive) + specere to behold

Derived forms of perspective

  • perspectively, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for perspective


In drawing or painting, a way of portraying three dimensions on a flat, two-dimensional surface by suggesting depth or distance.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.