Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Perceptible

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

What It Means

Perceptible means “able to be seen or noticed.”

// There was a perceptible change in the audience’s mood during the scary parts of the otherwise-comedic movie.

PERCEPTIBLE in Context

“On Friday, in a bizarre act that immediately went viral, two climate activists covered a 130-ish-year-old Vincent Van Gogh painting with tomato soup at the National Gallery in London. … Video shows that the orange soup did not seep into the yellow painting but rather rolled and dripped down the front, a barely perceptible layer clearly separating it from the art. The work reportedly suffered no damage, except to its frame.” — Caroline Mimbs Nyce, The Atlantic, 17 Oct. 2022

Did You Know?

See here: if something is perceptible, you can perceive it (“to notice or become aware of”) or capture it with your senses. Those who are linguistically perceptive may wonder if perceptible comes to us from Latin. It does indeed. Arriving in English by way of Late Latin perceptibilisperceptible comes from a form of percipere (“to perceive”), which comes from Latin capere (“to take”) and the prefix per- (“thoroughly”). Perceptible shares the capere part of its ancestry with a number of other English words related to seizing or being seized, including capturecaptorcaptivate, and even catch. An even closer relation of perceptible is perceptive: while perceptible describes what can be perceived, perceptive describes the one who does the perceiving. Perceptive was formed in English from perception, which is also from percipere.

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