Word of the Month: Percipient

David Zapatka

Friend, fellow bridge enthusiast and reader, Maria Davis, wrote, “I enjoyed your article on thraldom. It’s easier to spot the etymology when the alternative spelling thralldom is used. I have seen thrall and enthralled but thral(l)dom is a word that I had not encountered previously.

I came across an interesting word today—percipient. It was in a bridge hand analyzed by Paul Bowyer. The opening lead after 1N-3N was S3 from A73, with xxx in hearts, Txx in diamonds and xxxx in clubs. Down one when partner showed up with five spades to the KQ. Any other lead yields 3N with overtricks. How percipient was that, remarked Bowyer. The word has undergone some evolution over time, and has special meaning in psychology and interesting connotations in occult areas. It can also be used as a noun, unlike perceptive. Plenty to talk about if you have not used it already.

Percipient: noun per·cip·i·ent | pər-ˈsi-pē-ənt 1: a person or thing that perceives 2: a person on whose mind a telepathic impulse or message is held to fall

adjective 1: perceiving or capable of perceiving 2: having perception, discerning, discriminating // a percipient critic // a percipient choice of wines

Percipience: noun 1: The state or condition of being highly perceptive, as if in an almost hypnotic or telepathic state

Origin and Etymology: mid-17th century: from Latin percipient- ‘seizing, understanding,’ from the verb percipere

First Used: 1659

In the field of law, someone who has obtained knowledge of an event directly through their senses are called percipient witnesses. This means they saw what happened as an eyewitness or heard what happened as an earwitness. They are often called into a court of law to give testimony about what they perceived.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), a British mathematician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science once said, “Life is complex in its expression, involving more than percipience, namely desire, emotion, will, and feeling.”

Percipient used in a sentence:

The idea which is independent or for itself, when viewed on the point of this unity with itself, is perception or intuition, and the percipient idea is nature.

She was a percipient interpreter of the public mood.

Percipient used in the news and literature:

My thanks to Times TV critic Lorraine Ali for her percipient take. —latimes.com, May 25, 2018

Because, he says, to exist is to be perceived, and therefore for the universe to exist implies a universal Percipient. History of Modern Philosophy —Alfred William Benn

In these experiments with objects, the percipient was blindfolded and the object moreover was kept out of range of vision. Telepathy and the Subliminal Self —R. Osgood Mason

Are you percipient? Have you ever had an intuitive thought you then acted on or maybe should have acted on? Please submit any percipient experiences you may have had or any word you may like to share, along with your insights and comments to [email protected].