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noun \ˈsen(t)s\

Simple Definition of sense

  • : one of the five natural powers (touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing) through which you receive information about the world around you

  • : a physical feeling : something that your body experiences

  • : a particular feeling : an emotion that you are aware of

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sense

  1. 1 :  a meaning conveyed or intended :  import, signification; especially :  one of a set of meanings a word or phrase may bear especially as segregated in a dictionary entry

  2. 2a :  the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organsb :  a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimulic :  the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (as movement or thought)

  3. 3 :  conscious awareness or rationality —usually used in plural <finally came to his senses>

  4. 4a :  a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation <a good sense of balance>b :  a definite but often vague awareness or impression <felt a sense of insecurity> <a sense of danger>c :  a motivating awareness <a sense of shame>d :  a discerning awareness and appreciation <her sense of humor>

  5. 5 :  consensus <the sense of the meeting>

  6. 6a :  capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response :  intelligenceb :  sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality; also :  agreement with or satisfaction of such power <this decision makes sense>

  7. 7 :  one of two opposite directions especially of motion (as of a point, line, or surface)

Examples of sense in a sentence

  1. There is an unnerving sense now that technology is driving the culture rather than the reverse. Machines and sites and software are breeding at an exponential clip, and we hapless humans race around trying to adapt. —Steven Johnson, Discover, July 2006

  2. The caricature of neurotic nuns who specialized in corporal punishment and guilt crumbles before the countless examples of women religious who made the difference in determining that a child would eat, or be safe, or have any sense of dignity at all. —Luke Timothy Johnson, Commonweal, 22 Sept. 2006

  3. Because Updike shrinks from giving any real credence to the ideology that drives his plot (in both senses of that word), the book becomes a temporarily enthralling, but ultimately empty shaggy dog story. —Jonathan Raban, New York Review of Books, 13 July 2006

  4. Less distinguished people experience a similar tangling of the senses, some reporting that they can taste the words they speak or see the colors of certain words or numbers. This confounding of perception—called synesthesia—was thought to affect at most about 4 percent of the population, but University College London psychologist Jamie Ward has uncovered the best evidence yet that we may all have a bit of synesthesia. —Kathryn Garfield,Discover, December 2006

  5. All of my senses were on the alert for danger.

  6. We had a sense that something wasn't quite right.

  7. His senses were clear despite his illness.

Origin of sense

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French sen, sens sensation, feeling, mechanism of perception, meaning, from Latin sensus, from sentire to perceive, feel; perhaps akin to Old High German sinnan to go, strive, Old English sith journey — more at send

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of sense

sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence <a choice showing good sense>. common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge <common sense tells me it's wrong>. judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity <they relied on her judgment for guidance>. wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average <a leader of rare wisdom>.



transitive verb \ˈsen(t)s\

Simple Definition of sense

  • : to understand or be aware of (something) without being told about it or having evidence that it is true

  • of a machine : to detect the presence or occurrence of (something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sense


  1. 1a :  to perceive by the senses (see 1sense)b :  to be or become conscious of <sense danger>

  2. 2 :  grasp, comprehend

  3. 3 :  to detect automatically especially in response to a physical stimulus (as light or movement)

Examples of sense in a sentence

  1. The latest feature on air conditioners is a big new plug to help prevent fires. The plug shuts down power when it senses that the air conditioner cord is damaged. —Consumer Reports, July 2005

  2. With very little provocation, magic might have been flying back and forth in an unpleasant and damaging manner. Sensing the danger, Kate stepped between them and raised her hands. “Let us have no more of this. There is a confusion to be cleared up, and I cannot do that in the middle of a brannigan,” she said. —John Morressy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, October/November 2004

  3. In Pecnik, he had instantly sensed a kindred spirit. As a boy Pecnik had strapped homemade parachutes to hamsters and tossed them (without harm) from his sixth-story bedroom window; by the time he joined the Croatian national team he was making his own jumpsuits. —William Speed Weed, Popular Science, July 2003

  4. She immediately sensed my dislike.

  5. A motion detector can sense movement.

Origin of sense

(see 1sense)

First Known Use: circa 1531

Rhymes with sense

SENSE Defined for Kids



noun \ˈsens\

Definition of sense for Students

  1. 1 :  a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, taste, or touch) of the body that involves the action and effect of a stimulus on a sense organ

  2. 2 :  awareness arrived at through or as if through the senses <He felt a sense of danger.>

  3. 3 :  a particular sensation or kind of sensation <I lost my sense of balance.>

  4. 4 :  the ability to make wise decisions

  5. 5 :  an awareness or understanding of something <a sense of humor> <a sense of pride>

  6. 6 :  a reason or excuse based on intelligence or good judgment <There is no sense in continuing.>

  7. 7 :  a logical, sensible, or practical thing, act, or way of doing <Saving money for the future makes sense.>

  8. 8 :  a meaning or one of a set of meanings a word, phrase, or story may have




Definition of sense for Students


  1. :  to be or become aware of <My cat can sense the approach of a storm.>

Seen and Heard

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


to defraud especially of money

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