When we perceive something, we become aware of or notice it. Sometimes we perceive things by using our senses of sight, hearing, and smell.

Or we can use our mind to perceive things, which means that we are able to recognize or understand them. We can also perceive a person or thing as having certain qualities: Do you perceive yourself as a good student? The Latin root percipere means “to receive, understand,” from the prefix per- “thoroughly” plus capere “to seize, take.”

Definitions of perceive
  1. verb

    become aware of through the senses

    “I could
    perceive the ship coming over the horizon”
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    feel, sense

    perceive by a physical sensation, e.g., coming from the skin or muscles

    perceive in terms of a past experience
    pick up, receive

    register (perceptual input)

    perceive intuitively or through some inexplicable perceptive powers

    perceive what is not there; have illusions

    perceive incorrectly
    catch, pick up

    perceive with the senses quickly, suddenly, or momentarily

    experience while sleeping
    ache, hurt, suffer

    feel physical pain

    inhale the odor of; perceive by the olfactory sense

    perceive via the tactile sense

    perceive by sight or have the power to perceive by sight
    sight, spy

    catch sight of; to perceive with the eyes

    perceive (sound) via the auditory sense

    hear with intention

    perceive by the sense of taste

    perceive oneself to be in a certain condition or place
    see through

    perceive the true nature of

    receive a communication from someone

    divine by reading someone’s palms
    catch, get

    suffer from the receipt of

    catch a glimpse of or see briefly

    feel a sudden sharp, local pain
    prick, sting, twinge

    cause a stinging pain
    sniff, whiff

    perceive by inhaling through the nose
    nose, scent, wind

    catch the scent of; get wind of
    snuff, snuffle

    sniff or smell inquiringly
    get a noseful, get a whiff

    smell strongly and intensely

    see and understand, have a good eye
    catch a glimpse, catch sight, get a look

    see something for a brief time
    behold, lay eyes on

    see with attention
    see double

    see things as if they were there twice
    descry, espy, spot, spy

    catch sight of
    detect, discover, find, notice, observe

    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    hear out

    listen to every detail and give a full hearing to
    listen in

    listen quietly, without contributing to the conversation
    advert, attend, give ear, hang, pay heed

    give heed (to)
    catch, overhear, take in

    hear, usually without the knowledge of the speakers
    catch, get

    perceive by hearing
    hark, harken, hearken

    listen; used mostly in the imperative
    eavesdrop, listen in

    listen without the speaker’s knowledge
    savor, savour

    taste appreciatively

    be the source of great pain for

  2. verb

    become conscious of

    “She finally
    perceived the futility of her protest”
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    sense, smell, smell out

    become aware of not through the senses but instinctively
    type of:

    realise, realize, see, understand

    perceive (an idea or situation) mentally

  3. verb

    look on as or consider

    esteem, look on, look upon, regard as, repute, take to be, think of
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    type of:

    believe, conceive, consider, think

    judge or regard; look upon; judge

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