In the context below:

Let's say that your mom is asking if you have a boyfriend and you really don't want to talk about that, you start to complain about the food in dinner in order to shift the subject/topic. Unfortunately, she ___ your attempt and says: "Don't try to change the subject, you got to answer my question first."

Edit: The context above is only a suggestion and you don't need to fit the sentence structure.

What's a good word to describe that behavior?

  • 2
    She 'sees through' your attempt? – Kate Bunting Jul 8 '17 at 12:16
  • @Kate Bunting thanks. that's a good words to describe the action, do you have a good word for that behavior as well? – user239460 Jul 8 '17 at 14:09
  • 1
    It is unclear which aspect of that behaviour you're trying to describe. You could use recognizes (meaning that she, as @KateBunting noted, sees through your attempt) or disregards (as in ignores) or foils (meaning prevents the success of) for various ideas related to your attempt to change the subject. – Roger Sinasohn Jul 8 '17 at 16:36
  • 1
    The most obvious verb to insert there is thwart, which means to prevent someone or something from achieving their goal or purose. I wouldn't say the mother displayed any particular powers of observation by keeping to the topic. – Mari-Lou A Jul 12 '17 at 4:04
  • 1
    She's nobody's fool, she's one smart cookie, she's always been astute, sharp-eyed, clear thinking.... – Mari-Lou A Jul 12 '17 at 4:23

I think the set phrase to be onto something expresses the acute sense of noticing something, as only the word awareness can suggest:

in or into a state of awareness about


Another good word for it, perhaps even better, is the phrasal verb to sniff something out:

to discover someone or something, usually only after a special effort



According to Wikitionary

(figuratively) Of acute discernment; having keen insight; mentally perceptive.

Your mother has a perspicacious nature. You can modify your sentence to use this word.

In simpler words:

notice changes quickly

  • This cannot be correct since the OP needs a verb, as the context of the question shows. – ΥΣΕΡ26328 Jul 8 '17 at 12:53
  • @ΥΣΕΡ26328 I have asked him to modify his sentence to incorporate the word, if he wishes. I assumed he might be a little flexible if he wants an apt word. Moreover my answer perfectly answers his question in the title. – BlackSwan Jul 8 '17 at 12:56
  • @ΥΣΕΡ26328 i modify my question, i think a verb might not be enough to cover that up. – user239460 Jul 8 '17 at 12:57
  • @user239460 You can say that she "perspicaciously spoilt my attempt..." – BlackSwan Jul 8 '17 at 12:59
  • @Himabindu Boddupalli thanks. my question is flexible enough for a good word as you suggested. – user239460 Jul 8 '17 at 13:02

The word that comes to mind for me is spot:

... unfortunately she spots your attempt and says ...

In this context, spot means to notice something:




  1. See, notice, or recognize (someone or something) that is difficult to detect or that one is searching for.
    ‘Andrew spotted the advert in the paper’
    ‘the men were spotted by police’

(Oxford Dictionaries)

Although, if she's anything like my daughter, her attempts to change the subject will be obvious... 8^)

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