Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Learning | Perspicacious and Perspicuous

Perspicacious, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, is an adjective meaning "having a ready insight into and understanding of things." There are a few derivative forms of perspicacious. The adverb form of this word is perspicaciously, and the noun is perspicacity.

Perspicacity is a desirable quality in many professions, especially those that require a lot of troubleshooting. These fellows depicted below look mighty perspicacious. They seem to know exactly what needs to be done--just the kind of mechanics I would want working on my car.

Perspicuous is a related adjective, meaning "clearly expressed and easily understood; lucid." It has a second definition, referring to a person, meaning "expressing things clearly."

1963 Television Eyeglasses. From James Vaughn's photostream on Some Rights reserved.

The television eyeglasses pictured below are perspicuous, but not because they help the guy in the photo see television better; they actually don't work. The gentleman below is inventor and futurist Hugo Gernsback. He is modeling a mock-up of a product he believed would be available soon--so the mock-up perspicuously demonstrates his concept.

The picture makes me think of two things: 

1. First, in the 1960s, parents were always telling children not to sit too close to the television set, "or you'll go blind!" I can't imagine this item would have sold very well in those days, because people would have been afraid of it.

2. One might say Hugo Gernsback predicted Google Glass!


  1. It begs the question: did anyone who grew up in the 1960's ever go actually blind from sitting to close to the TV? If so, please comment below.

  2. Well...I had a tendency to sit "too close" to the screen, and I ended up getting eyeglasses in the third grade. But the case could be made, that I chose to sit right near the TV because I was already nearsighted.

    Hmmm. That is a very good question, Roo.

  3. Hugo Gernsback...I do believe he was the same Hugo for which the famous Hugo Awards for science fiction & fantasy writing were named. In his day, he was the editor of a science fiction magazine called Amazing Stories. I wonder what amazing stories he'd think up today?

  4. That's the same guy! If you click on his name, in the first place it appears in the post above, you will be taken to an October 4, 2012 Smithsonian Magazine article about him. What an amazing, busy visionary he was!