perspicacious, perspicuous
Fowler (1926) snootily urged the use of simpler alternatives by ‘those who are neither learned nor pretentious’. Perspicacious means ‘having mental penetration or discernment, discerning’, and its corresponding noun is perspicacity. Perspicuous, on the other hand, means ‘clear to understand’ (with reference to people and statements), and its noun is perspicuity. It is the nouns that are confused rather than the adjectives, and the following examples of correct uses may help to distinguish them in the reader's mind:

• He went through the photographs. But it didn't take much perspicacity to tell that some…were missing —Ruth Rendell, 1983

• He [William Cobbett] wrote with perspicuity and vigour, in a prose style commended by Hazlitt as ‘plain, broad, downright English’ —Margaret Drabble, 2000.

Suitable alternative words are (for perspicacity) perception, perceptiveness, acuteness, and shrewdness, and (for perspicuity) clarity, lucidity, and lucidness.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Perspicacious — Per spi*ca cious, a. [L. perspicax, acis, fr. perspicere to look through: cf. F. perspicace. See {Perspective}.] 1. Having the power of seeing clearly; quick sighted; sharp of sight. [1913 Webster] 2. Fig.: Of acute discernment; keen. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • perspicacious — I adjective acutus, alert, apperceptive, argute, artful, astute, bright, canny, clear sighted, clearheaded, clever, crafty, cunning, dioristic, discerning, discriminating, discriminative, farseeing, farsighted, fore sighted, forethoughtful,… …   Law dictionary

  • perspicacious — mid 17c., from L. perspicax having the power of seeing through (see PERSPICACITY (Cf. perspicacity)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • perspicacious — *shrewd, sagacious, astute Analogous words: *sharp, keen, acute: penetrating, piercing, probing (see ENTER) Antonyms: dull …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • perspicacious — [adj] observant, perceptive acute, alert, astute, aware, clear sighted, clever, discerning, heady*, judicious, keen, penetrating, percipient, sagacious, savvy*, sharp, sharpwitted, shrewd; concept 402 Ant. ignorant, unobservant, unperceptive …   New thesaurus

  • perspicacious — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ having a ready insight into and understanding of things. DERIVATIVES perspicaciously adverb perspicacity noun. ORIGIN from Latin perspicax seeing clearly …   English terms dictionary

  • perspicacious — [pʉr΄spi kā′shəs] adj. [< L perspicax (gen. perspicacis) < perspicere, to see through: see PERSPECTIVE] 1. having keen judgment or understanding; acutely perceptive 2. Archaic having keen vision SYN. SHREWD perspicaciously adv. perspicacity …   English World dictionary

  • perspicacious — [[t]pɜ͟ː(r)spɪke͟ɪʃəs[/t]] ADJ GRADED Someone who is perspicacious notices, realizes, and understands things quickly. [FORMAL] Ordinary British people become steadily more worldly, knowing, perspicacious and cynical. Syn: perceptive, astute… …   English dictionary

  • perspicacious — adjective formal good at judging and understanding people and situations: a perspicacious literary critic | a perspicacious remark perspicaciously adverb perspicacity noun (U) …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • perspicacious — perspicaciously, adv. perspicaciousness, n. /perr spi kay sheuhs/, adj. 1. having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment. 2. Archaic. having keen vision. [1610 20; PERSPICACI(TY) + OUS] Syn. 1.… …   Universalium

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