Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Perspicacious

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is perspicacious. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Perspicacious is a formal word that means “possessing acute mental vision or discernment.” Someone who is perspicacious has a keen ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious.

// She considers herself a perspicacious judge of character.


“Some of the film’s performances are merely peculiar and others merely apt, but [actor Don] Cheadle is thrilling, with coiled strength and a perspicacious gaze that seems to realize ideas in motion.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 July 2021

Did You Know?

Some perspective on perspicacious: the word combines the Latin perspicac- (from perspicax meaning “clear-sighted,” which in turn comes from perspicere, “to see through”) with the common English adjective suffix -ious. The result is a somewhat uncommon word used to describe someone (such as a reader or observer) or something (such as an essay or analysis) displaying the perception and understanding of subtleties others tend to miss, such as the distinctions between the words perspicacious, shrewd, sagacious, and astute—something our synonym chooser can help with.

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