Sapience is wisdom: good judgment, or the power to understand things deeply.
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Part of speech:
(Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the sapience,” “such sapience,” “a lot of sapience,” “no sapience,” and so on, but don’t say “sapiences.”)
Other forms: sapient, sapiently
But isn't this just a fancy, useless word?:
Here's a sticky issue in vocabulary study:we're looking at a sophisticated word with a plain synonym that everybody already knows. And the fancy word and the plain word mean almost exactly the same thing. Doesn't it make you an unbearable know-it-all to use "sapience" when all you mean is "wisdom"? Why bother even knowing "sapience" when you already know "wisdom"?
My two cents: In most situations, picking a plain word is best. But sometimes you need to vary your word choice to avoid repetition, and sometimes you need to alter the tone or formality of what you're saying. Further, sometimes you're on the receiving end of fancy words, so it's worth it to know them even if you choose to never use them.
So today we're looking at "sapience" even though we already know "wisdom."
Moving on along!
How to use it:
You use "sapience" instead of "wisdom" when you need to emphasize how well people perceive and how deep their insights are. And because we see this word's obvious link to "Homo sapiens," we might choose "sapience" to emphasize the humanity of the wisdom we're describing. However, you're just as likely to see the word being used sarcastically: "Collectively, they have the sapience of a Q-tip."
So, talk about someone's sapience or the sapience of someone (or the sapience of a group of people,) or talk about someone doing or saying something with sapience or with an air of sapience. You can also simply talk about sapience in general: "they lacked sapience," "he developed sapience," "we had the sapience to be silent," etc.
For the adjective, talk about sapient advice, sapient comments, sapient people and personalities, etc.
Science fiction stories often explore the boundaries between sentience (awareness) and sapience within an alien species.
She thinks of herself as an absolute moral authority, but honestly, cartoon owls have more sapience than she does.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "sapience" means when you can explain it without saying "insight" or "deep perception."
Think of a time you made a mistake or suffered but got a little wiser because of it, and fill in the blanks: "(Situation) (lost/cost/caused) me _____ but earned me a little sapience."
Example: "Paying an unlicensed contractor in advance lost me a couple hundred dollars but earned me a little sapience."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
The following super-short words are real, and they do kind of mean what you might expect! Any guesses about what they mean? Iff, jus, & mim.
Iff means “iff and only if,” jus means “law, legal right,” and mim means “prim, demure.”
Try this one today:
An oystercatcher, a quickhatch, and a tucutucu are all types of what?
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answers? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
Seneca: “Mens regnum bona possidet.” (“A good mind possesses a kingdom.”)
1. The opposite of SAPIENCE is
2. For many millions of people, the _____ holds abundant sapience.
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.