Percipient

Percipient

pərˈsipēənt

Noun

  • (Especially in philosophy or with reference to psychic phenomena) A person who is able to perceive things.

Adjective

  • (Of a person) Having a good understanding of things; perceptive.

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Example Sentences

“Joel was quiet but percipient toward the emotions of people around him.”

“As a percipient, she was often the first to notice when emotions were running high.”

“Percipient reporters get the best scoops and offer the most insight.”

Word Origin

Latin, mid-17th century

Why this word?

To be percipient is to be perceptive. Both words come from the Latin root “percipere,” meaning “to receive, understand.” Over time, though, “perceptive” became the more commonly used adjective, and “percipient” was relegated mostly to philosophical discussions. Both refer to a person who has highly attuned senses, but the difference between the two words is nuanced. For example: “It was perceptive of you to notice Jim was missing. He was percipient to realize Pam didn’t want him here and he left.” In the first sentence, “perceptive” is about a physical thing; in the latter, “percipient” is applied to an emotional understanding.

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