Definition of perspective in US English:



  • 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’
    • ‘He published a description of a machine to create perspective drawings and he discussed the grinding of conical lenses and mirrors.’
    • ‘The perspective of three-dimensional objects in the two-dimensional image is dictated by the viewing geometry and the camera.’
    • ‘The Shrine authorities produced elevations and perspective drawings of even the most sacred buildings in order to facilitate rebuilding.’
    • ‘She also avoided any hint of perspective, seeing painting as essentially two-dimensional.’
    • ‘The illustrations in Pacioli's work were by Leonardo da Vinci and include some fine perspective drawings of regular solids.’
    • ‘The work is considered a masterpiece in the use of perspective and in the portrayal of the artistic ideals of the High Renaissance.’
    • ‘A pin at the central vanishing point would have been as useful here as it would for perspective drawings set out mathematically.’
    • ‘Both Manet and Ravi Varma introduce the European single point perspective of viewing the woman propped up high on cushions, looking down to confront the viewer.’
    • ‘Underpinning the exhibition is a desire to explain and contextualise the artist's use of techniques such as pointillism and anamorphic perspective.’
    • ‘Only if one accepts the claims of the naturalness of Renaissance artificial perspective can we accept photography as a mimetic representation of the world.’
    • ‘This treatise on painting included a discussion of the laws of mathematical perspective for artists.’
    • ‘He also began studying female form and perspective in his art.’
    • ‘English painters had relatively little contact with Italy, and were decidedly not working in the Italian Renaissance tradition of perspective and chiaroscuro.’
    • ‘All that we were supposed to do was work on our perspective drawings, and largely ignore Ciappa and everyone else.’
    • ‘There were no questions, so she launched into something about perspective drawings while we all proceeded to fall asleep.’
    • ‘They also tried to introduce Western painting techniques like the use of perspective and the technique of displaying light and shadows.’
    1. 1.1 A picture drawn in perspective, especially one appearing to enlarge or extend the actual space, or to give the effect of distance.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although distance lends perspective, it can also lend enchantment.’
      • ‘There is an added design advantage inherent in steps: they have a completely different impact, depending on the viewer's perspective.’
      • ‘Few students actually see dissections being performed and fail to gain a proper three-dimensional perspective of body parts.’
      • ‘Movement is in 3D from a first person perspective and all monsters appear as still pictures with only small sections being animated.’
      • ‘The result is an amazing yet impossible landscape that plays with your idea of perspective and distance.’
      • ‘Yet from a more distanced perspective, the flags gain life and energy, and define nothing in particular even as they beckon to be viewed.’
      • ‘A print is constructed from lines and surfaces on a two-dimensional surface and on it should be contained perspective, volume and color.’
      • ‘While in the flare, the edges of the runway in front of the airplane give better height perspective than the centerline does.’
      • ‘Laboriously, James practiced creating the illusion of perspective in a drawing and experimented with point of view.’
      • ‘This was a very common mistake, especially with kids, who had no concept of depth or perspective.’
      • ‘Birch intentionally warps perspective and depth in a way that brings to mind jazz music and its deliberate distortion of pitch and timbre.’
      • ‘He made detailed and careful drawings from one fixed perspective - some say he used the camera obscura - and then returned to his studio to paint.’
    2. 1.2 A view or prospect.
      • ‘The elm trees that lined both sides of the road were heavy with mid-summer foliage, and the view from the attic gave a birds-eye perspective of the neighbourhood canopy.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the lack of any other visual perspectives meant that the film could have been shot in Beirut, Cairo or Baghdad.’
      • ‘This gives a panoramic perspective of the church as it spans across time and space.’
      • ‘The surrounding Black Sea landscape serves to further intensify the already magnificent visual perspectives.’
      • ‘As well as providing the tropical touch, banana plants add height and perspective to borders and patios and conservatory displays.’
      • ‘He moved around to get a long perspective view of the street.’
      • ‘His landscapes offer a tilting perspective, often a view over rises or down a slope.’
      • ‘Windows had been covered, leaving only holes by which to look out at Vancouver from fixed perspectives.’
      view, vista, panorama, prospect, bird's-eye view, sweep, outlook, aspect
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Geometry 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.
      • ‘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’
    • ‘Journalists should not automatically view events from the perspective of prison management.’
    • ‘A company survey gave a new perspective on the attitudes, knowledge and emotions which form investor mistakes.’
    • ‘But what does a reading of these two books together do to contribute towards developing an anti-authoritarian perspective?’
    • ‘The data helped us to better understand those programs and the participants' perspectives in regards to them.’
    • ‘But they didn't follow this break by turning towards a revolutionary perspective.’
    • ‘While we may not have control over everything in our lives, we do have control over our attitude and our perspective.’
    • ‘It just depends upon the perspective one would view it from.’
    • ‘In this paper I suggest an alternative perspective towards these assumptions.’
    • ‘I have received feedback from one other person with regards to Monica's perspectives.’
    • ‘It was a movement among a large layer of intellectuals who were drawn towards the socialist perspectives of the workers' movement.’
    • ‘Dazzlingly diverse, it is home to a wonderful mix of races, perspectives and attitudes.’
    • ‘The emphasis is not on the law though, but rather on the lawyers and their different perspectives and attitudes to life.’
    • ‘Progress is slow when viewed from the perspective of one life.’
    • ‘He is confident that this will profoundly affect the perspective paleontologists take towards dinosaur behavior.’
    • ‘From a historical perspective, our attitudes about ‘what is art’ have changed from time to time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The artwork has to be able to point towards new perspectives and formulate new possibilities and new narratives.’
    • ‘International politics can be seen from three perspectives: realist, liberal and culturalistic.’
    • ‘Several speakers offered perspectives on public policy toward addicts and addictions.’
    • ‘This is precisely backward when viewed from the perspective of human liberty.’
    outlook, view, viewpoint, point of view, standpoint, position, stand, stance, angle, slant, attitude, frame of mind, frame of reference, approach, way of looking, way of thinking, vantage point, interpretation
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 True understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.
      ‘we must keep a sense of perspective about what he's done’
      • ‘Lunching with one's classmates can help the undergraduate develop a sense of perspective about their studies.’
      • ‘It is very important to put into perspective just how important this bill is to New Zealand.’
      • ‘I'm not sure the state is right to suspend the license in that situation, but I think it's important to keep a sense of perspective here.’
      • ‘In thinking about this issue I realize how some people need to speak about themselves to large groups of people in order to create a sense of perspective.’
      • ‘Let's keep some sense of perspective about this.’
      • ‘The combination of working class values and his artistic ability did give the musician a sense of perspective.’
      • ‘So, I mean, I think this is important to keep this in some sense of perspective.’
      • ‘It keeps me grounded and gives me a sense of perspective.’
      • ‘Adults seem to have lost their sense of perspective.’
      • ‘While no-one doubts that it's a worrying time for students it is important that people adopt a sense of perspective in all of this.’
      • ‘It needs a common sense approach and a sense of perspective to the important things in life.’
      • ‘Once a counselor has regressed, there is a loss of perspective and sense of consequences that may result in unsound judgment calls.’
      • ‘We have now reached the conclusion of this series and before we wrap up it is fitting for us to put into perspective the ground that we have covered.’
      • ‘And if people have no sense of humor or no sense of perspective on that, my response is, it's about time to get a life.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But she thinks her sense of perspective is returning, particularly when she looks at the twins currently sporting more hair than their mum.’
      • ‘You can see where I lost my sense of perspective.’
      • ‘Let's hope film-makers can acquire a similar sense of perspective before our collective memory is sold off to the highest bidder.’
      • ‘Keep a sense of perspective when you are assessing the relative returns on offer from the various institutions.’
      • ‘We still have to keep a sense of perspective about this.’
  • 3An apparent spatial distribution in perceived sound.

    • ‘There is now a clearer definition and a back-to-front perspective to the sound.’


  • in (or out of) perspective

    • 1Showing the right (or wrong) relationship between visible objects.

      • ‘Two sides of the shrine are visible, rendered in perspective as if the building were set in the distance.’
      1. 1.1Correctly (or incorrectly) regarded in terms of relative importance.
        ‘these expenses may seem high, but they need to be put into perspective’
        • ‘Once you get past the colorful language, it's important to put the information in perspective.’
        • ‘It puts in perspective some of the temporary blips in that relationship.’
        • ‘It's important to keep these divisions and manoeuvres in perspective.’
        • ‘Taken together, this is a fairly revolutionary and intrusive programme, but it is important to view it in perspective.’
        • ‘It's unfortunate that this is happening, but it's important also to keep this in perspective.’
        • ‘This will help to keep your job, relationships, and overall goals in perspective.’
        • ‘Illness puts things in perspective and teaches you what's important.’
        • ‘While this was a horrendous event, it is important to keep it in perspective.’
        • ‘You have to be careful and keep this in perspective, especially in terms of apportioning blame.’
        • ‘In our quest for ultimate health it can be tough to keep our relationship with food in perspective.’


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’.