verb (used with object), per·ceived, per·ceiv·ing.
- to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses: I perceived an object looming through the mist.
- 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.
- to become aware of (something) through the senses, esp the sight; recognize or observe
- (tr; may take a clause as object) to come to comprehend; grasp
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.
- To become aware of directly through any of the senses, especially sight or hearing.
- To achieve understanding of; apprehend.