Definition of perspective in English:

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Pronunciation: /pərˈspektiv/


1The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point: [as modifier]: a perspective drawing See also linear perspective and aerial perspective.
More example sentences
  • The Shrine authorities produced elevations and perspective drawings of even the most sacred buildings in order to facilitate rebuilding.
  • A pin at the central vanishing point would have been as useful here as it would for perspective drawings set out mathematically.
  • The illustrations in Pacioli's work were by Leonardo da Vinci and include some fine perspective drawings of regular solids.
1.1A picture drawn in perspective, especially one appearing to enlarge or extend the actual space, or to give the effect of distance.
Example sentences
  • There is an added design advantage inherent in steps: they have a completely different impact, depending on the viewer's perspective.
  • From this distance, painted from this perspective, the waters appear calm, but he knows that the flow has the power to wear away the rocks and the might to shape the landscape.
  • Clever use of perspective makes the scene appear much bigger than it actually is, and reinforces the fantasy element of the play by delineating the space between the actors and the audience.
1.2A view or prospect.
Example sentences
  • His landscapes offer a tilting perspective, often a view over rises or down a slope.
  • The surrounding Black Sea landscape serves to further intensify the already magnificent visual perspectives.
  • He moved around to get a long perspective view of the street.
1.3 Geometry The relation of two figures in the same plane, such that pairs of corresponding points lie on concurrent lines, and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.
Example sentences
  • He then goes on to give theorems which relate to the perspective of plane figures.
2A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view: most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective
More example sentences
  • The artwork has to be able to point towards new perspectives and formulate new possibilities and new narratives.
  • But what does a reading of these two books together do to contribute towards developing an anti-authoritarian perspective?
  • It used to be a decent shelter, but from my perspective, the attitude of the management and the board is not what you want at a shelter.
outlook, view, viewpoint, point of view, POV, standpoint, position, stand, stance, angle, slant, attitude, frame of mind, frame of reference, approach, way of looking, interpretation
2.1True understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion: we must keep a sense of perspective about what he’s done
More example sentences
  • It needs a common sense approach and a sense of perspective to the important things in life.
  • Let's hope film-makers can acquire a similar sense of perspective before our collective memory is sold off to the highest bidder.
  • Alternatively, to reflect on my death prompts a sense of perspective on what is important to do now, how to set my priorities, how to live authentically.
3An apparent spatial distribution in perceived sound.
Example sentences
  • There is now a clearer definition and a back-to-front perspective to the sound.


in (or out of) perspective

Showing the right (or wrong) relationship between visible objects.
Example sentences
  • Two sides of the shrine are visible, rendered in perspective as if the building were set in the distance.
1.1Correctly (or incorrectly) regarded in terms of relative importance: these expenses may seem high, but they need to be put into perspective
More example sentences
  • You have to be careful and keep this in perspective, especially in terms of apportioning blame.
  • While this was a horrendous event, it is important to keep it in perspective.
  • Taken together, this is a fairly revolutionary and intrusive programme, but it is important to view it in perspective.



Pronunciation: /-tivəl/
Example sentences
  • This does strange perspectival things to your head.
  • I just wanted to make a few comments about the sand trap that I'll call perspectival relativism.
  • Their perspectival rooflines meet in a v-shape that imitates the opening of a book.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'optics'): from medieval Latin perspectiva (ars) 'science of optics', from perspect- 'looked at closely', from the verb perspicere, from per- 'through' + specere 'to look'.

  • In early use this word was a name for the science of optics: it comes from medieval Latin perspectiva (ars) ‘science of optics’, from perspicere ‘look at closely’. The notion of perspective in drawings dates from the end of the 16th century. The same verb lies behind perspicacious (early 17th century) which comes from the Latin for ‘seeing clearly’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: per·spec·tive

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