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perspicac(ious) +‎ -ity, from Middle French perspicacité, from Latin perspicācitās (sharpsightedness, discrimination).


  • Hyphenation: per‧spi‧cac‧i‧ty
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌpɜː.spɪˈkæs.ɪ.ti/
  • (US) enPR: pûrʹspĭ·kăsʹə·tē, IPA(key): /ˌpɜːɹ.spɪˈkæs.ɪ.ti/


perspicacity (usually uncountable, plural perspicacities)

  1. Acute discernment or understanding; insight.
    • 1904, Jack London, chapter 8, in The Sea-Wolf (Macmillan’s Standard Library), New York, N.Y.: Grosset & Dunlap, OCLC 169815:
      "I understand," I said. "The fact is that you have the money." His face brightened. He seemed pleased at my perspicacity.
    • 2019 April 23, Heller McAlpin, “In McEwan's Latest, The 'Machine' Is Too Much Like You”, in NPR[1]:
      McEwan certainly has a flair for unusual points of view. Adam, like the baby-in-waiting who narrates Nutshell, is an extraordinarily smart, well-informed, and unorthodox character who catches his supposed caretakers off-guard with his perspicacity.
  2. The human faculty or power to mentally grasp or understand clearly.
    • 1856, "Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey," The Quarterly Review, vol. 98, p. 458:
      His very veneration for his father-in-law, combined as it is with a total want of the most ordinary perspicacity, is an additional disqualification.
    • 1888, "Review of La suggestion mentale by H. Bourru and P. Burot," The American Journal of Psychology, vol. 1 no. 3, p. 503:
      As the former consists in the transmission of psychic states inappreciable to the normal perspicacity or senses, the transfer cannot pass through the medium of intelligence.
  3. (obsolete) Keen eyesight.
    • 1833, John Harrison Curtis, A Treatise on the Physiology and Diseases of the Eye, London, Longman, p. 138:
      Attentive consideration of the phenomena of vision has led to the invention of artificial aids by which the sight may be wonderfully strengthened and preserved, and man endowed at once with the perspicacity of the eagle or the minute scrutiny of the insect.

Related terms[edit]


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