Printable Version
Pronunciation: æp-êr-sep-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Full mental integration of a new experience into our catalog of past experiences. 2. Perception with full awareness. 3. (Philosophy) The act of voluntary consciousness, accompanied by self-consciousness.

Notes: The difference between today's Good Word and perception is that the latter refers to simply perceiving things or events with the senses. Apperception, on the other hand, refers to integrating perceptions into the rest of our knowledge. Like perception, though, it has all the same relations: it is the noun of the verb apperceive, and it has an adjective apperceptive.

In Play: Remember this word refers to a perception which is complete and fully integrated with our life experiences: "We moved to the country on the apperception that our lives were absorbed by the hum-drum of daily city living." A teenager might have to explain to her parents: "Oh, Dad, you can't fully apperceive the necessity of my tattoos because you don't have to live with my generation."

Word History: Apperception is a borrowing from Latin of a rare word with two prefixes: ad- "(up)to" + per- "completely" + ceptio(n)- "capture, seizure". (The D in the first prefix assimilates to P before P.) It is the noun for the Latin verb percipere "seize, grasp, perceive", comprising per- "completely" + capere "seize, grab" (Modern French percevoir). Capere is a PIE word with a very large family accumulated over the centuries. We see it in French borrowings like capture, capacity, plus all the words on -ceive. English received many words via its Germanic ancestors from the same PIE source, words like have, heavy, haven, and heave. (Let's now thank Iain Smallwood for the opportunity to apperceive today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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