This morning, I received this comment from one of the authors I have been working with (or should I say . . . with whom I have been working . . . ha!).
“Thank you for your prompt, perspicacious and very helpful work on my [nonfiction] manuscript. I think it’s much better now.”
I don’t recall being described as “perspicacious” before — although I have been labeled as “astute” — but I take it as high praise. I know, in a general sense, what the word means, but I looked it up anyway to distinguish it from similar terms. This is what Merriam-Webster says about it:
“Perspicacious is similar in meaning to shrewd and astute, but a sharp mind will discern subtle differences among them. All three mean acute in perception and sound in judgment, but shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness, whereas perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and comprehend what is puzzling or hidden. (You can see this shade of meaning in the root of perspicacious — the Latin word perspicere, meaning “to look through” or “to see clearly.”) Astute suggests both shrewdness and perspicacity, as well as diplomatic skill.”
Ah, now I get it. Perhaps I need to work on my “diplomatic skill” — I am honest (some might say “brutally “) with authors. Mind you, it’s constructive criticism, with suggestions and recommendations on how to improve their manuscripts, and never derisive [i.e., expressing or causing contemptuous ridicule or scorn].