Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun con·sen·sus \kən-ˈsen(t)-səs\

Simple Definition of consensus

  • : a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group

Full Definition of consensus

  1. 1 a :  general agreement :  unanimity <the consensus of their opinion, based on reports … from the border — John Hersey> b :  the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned <the consensus was to go ahead>

  2. 2 :  group solidarity in sentiment and belief

Usage Discussion of consensus

The phrase consensus of opinion, which is not actually redundant (see sense 1a; the sense that takes the phrase is slightly older), has been so often claimed to be a redundancy that many writers avoid it. You are safe in using consensus alone when it is clear you mean consensus of opinion, and most writers in fact do so.

Examples of consensus

  1. Yet despite this and other dust-ups during the convention, the general consensus is that Episcopalians weathered this one with their customary civility intact. —Antonio Ramirez, Commonweal, 12 Sept. 1997

  2. Despite years of debate over the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving, no real consensus has emerged. —Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 30 Nov. 1995

  3. Beyond the general goal of sustainability, there was little consensus at the conference on how to get from here to there. —Constance Holden, Science, 6 July 1990

  4. … it is the consensus of opinion that the Iceni in their geographic isolation remained ‘Celtic’ … —Antonia Fraser, The Warrior Queens, 1988

  5. Everyone on the council seems to understand the need for consensus.

  6. There is a lack of consensus among the citizens.

  7. The decision was made by consensus.

Origin of consensus

Latin, from consentire (see 1consent)

First Known Use: 1843

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up consensus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

196.5 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds 2.2 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.