See more synonyms for perceive on
verb (used with object), per·ceived, per·ceiv·ing.
  1. to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses: I perceived an object looming through the mist.
  2. to recognize, discern, envision, or understand: I perceive a note of sarcasm in your voice. This is a nice idea but I perceive difficulties in putting it into practice.

Origin of perceive

1250–1300; Middle English perceiven < Anglo-French *perceivre, for perçoivre < Latin percipere to lay hold of, grasp, equivalent to per- per- + -cipere, combining form of capere to take
Related formsper·ceiv·ed·ly [per-see-vid-lee, -seevd-] /pərˈsi vɪd li, -ˈsivd-/, adverbper·ceiv·ed·ness, nounper·ceiv·er, nounper·ceiv·ing·ness, nounnon·per·ceiv·ing, adjectivere·per·ceive, verb (used with object), re·per·ceived, re·per·ceiv·ing.self-per·ceiv·ing, adjectiveun·per·ceived, adjectiveun·per·ceiv·ing, adjectivewell-per·ceived, adjective

Synonyms for perceive

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perceives

Contemporary Examples of perceives

Historical Examples of perceives

  • For it perceives its object's little failings with a calm and judicial eye.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • It is not sense which perceives, but reason which infers them.

  • He perceives that the sacrifice required is the sacrifice of himself.


    James Anthony Froude

  • They were just beginning to realise that the mind works when it perceives.

  • The first answer is, that he perceives sights with the eye, and sounds with the ear.

British Dictionary definitions for perceives


  1. to become aware of (something) through the senses, esp the sight; recognize or observe
  2. (tr; may take a clause as object) to come to comprehend; grasp
Derived Formsperceivable, adjectiveperceivability, nounperceivably, adverbperceiver, noun

Word Origin for perceive

C13: from Old French perçoivre, from Latin percipere seize entirely, from per- (thoroughly) + capere to grasp
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

Word Origin and History for perceives



c.1300, via Anglo-French parceif, Old North French *perceivre (Old French perçoivre) "perceive, notice, see; recognize, understand," from Latin percipere "obtain, gather, seize entirely, take possession of," also, figuratively, "to grasp with the mind, learn, comprehend," literally "to take entirely," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + capere "to grasp, take" (see capable).

Replaced Old English ongietan. Both the Latin senses were in Old French, though the primary sense of Modern French percevoir is literal, "to receive, collect" (rents, taxes, etc.), while English uses the word almost always in the metaphorical sense. Related: Perceived; perceiving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

perceives in Medicine


  1. To become aware of directly through any of the senses, especially sight or hearing.
  2. To achieve understanding of; apprehend.
Related formsper•ceiva•ble adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.