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[per-spek-tiv] /pərˈspɛk tɪv/
a technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface.
a picture employing this technique, especially one in which it is prominent:
an architect's perspective of a house.
a visible scene, especially one extending to a distance; vista:
a perspective on the main axis of an estate.
the state of existing in space before the eye:
The elevations look all right, but the building's composition is a failure in perspective.
the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship:
You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.
the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship:
Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.
a mental view or prospect:
the dismal perspective of terminally ill patients.
of or relating to the art of perspective, or represented according to its laws.
Origin of perspective
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin perspectīva (ars) optical (science), perspectīvum optical glass, noun uses of feminine and neuter of perspectīvus optical, equivalent to Latin perspect-, past participle stem of perspicere to look at closely (see per-, inspect) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
perspectival, adjective
perspectived, adjective
perspectiveless, adjective
perspectively, adverb
nonperspective, noun, adjective
Can be confused
perspective, prospective. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for perspective
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Read the first part of this sonnet, with a view to perspective.

  • Thus I get a perspective upon the place, to Will and his ilk denied.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • And I must preserve my perspective, for I am studying the Bowery.

    Whirligigs O. Henry
  • The stove, with its perspective all awry, was tame and precise, and in colour as dingy as mire.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • The perspective was excellently preserved; the foliage, verdure, and general colouring artistically toned and glazed.

British Dictionary definitions for perspective


a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance
the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity: try to get some perspective on your troubles
the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye
the appearance of objects, buildings, etc, relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance
a view over some distance in space or time; vista; prospect
a picture showing perspective
Derived Forms
perspectively, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin perspectīva ars the science of optics, from Latin perspicere to inspect carefully, from per- (intensive) + specere to behold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perspective

late 14c., "science of optics," from Old French perspective and directly from Medieval Latin perspectiva ars "science of optics," from fem. of perspectivus "of sight, optical" from Latin perspectus "clearly perceived," past participle of perspicere "inspect, look through, look closely at," from per- "through" (see per) + specere "look at" (see scope (n.1)). Sense of "art of drawing objects so as to give appearance of distance or depth" is first found 1590s, influenced by Italian prospettiva, an artists' term. The figurative meaning "mental outlook over time" is first recorded 1762.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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perspective in Culture

perspective definition

In drawing or painting, a way of portraying three dimensions on a flat, two-dimensional surface by suggesting depth or distance.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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perspective in Technology

In computer games, the virtual position from which the human player views the playing area. There are three different perspectives: first person, second person, and third person.
First person perspective: Viewing the world through the eyes of the primary character in three dimensions. e.g. Doom, Quake.
Second person perspective: Viewing the game through a spectator's eyes, in two or three dimensions. Depending on the game, the main character is always in view. e.g. Super Mario Bros., Tomb Raider.
Third person perspective: a point of view which is independent of where characters or playing units are. The gaming world is viewed much as a satellite would view a battlefield. E.g. Warcraft, Command & Conquer.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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