con·​science | \ ˈkän(t)-shən(t)s How to pronounce conscience (audio) \

Definition of conscience

1a : the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good She had a guilty conscience.
b : a faculty, power, or principle enjoining good acts guided by conscience
c : the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego
2 : conformity to what one considers to be correct, right, or morally good : conscientiousness
3 : sensitive regard for fairness or justice : scruple a wealthy man with no conscience
4 archaic : consciousness
in all conscience or in conscience
: in all fairness She could not in all conscience remain silent.

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Other Words from conscience

conscienceless \ ˈkän(t)-​shən(t)s-​ləs How to pronounce conscienceless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of conscience in a Sentence

… it is a politician's natural instinct to avoid taking any stand that seems controversial unless and until the voters demand it or conscience absolutely requires it. — Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006 We like to imagine literature as the still, small voice of human conscience. It is that only rarely, however. Actively and passively, it has always borne along pernicious ideas. — Marilynne Robinson, New York Times Book Review, 15 Mar. 1987 So she had lied to him, but so had he to her, they were quits on that score and his conscience was calm. — Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel, (1950) 1958 The rat had no morals, no conscience, no scruples, no consideration, no decency … — E. B. White, Charlotte's Web, 1952 The thief must have had an attack of conscience, because he returned the wallet with nothing missing from it.
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Recent Examples on the Web His conservative judicial appointments, regulatory restraint, pro-life policies, defense of conscience rights, and reorientation of Mideast alliances have been particularly commendable. The Editors, National Review, "The Task Ahead," 15 Oct. 2020 All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. WSJ, "The Changing Meaning of Tolerance, and Its Lack," 13 Oct. 2020 The death of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan on Sunday is not only a loss of a great baseball player, but the MLB’s conscience, Ann Killion writes. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: California’s virus numbers at odds with U.S. ‘third wave’," 13 Oct. 2020 To them, voting isn’t about party, but acting on one’s personal conscience. Scott Huddleston,, "Thousands line up at San Antonio polling sites as early voting begins in person," 13 Oct. 2020 My initial conscience-free, pre-coffee reaction Saturday morning when the schedule was released was 5-1. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Analysis: Utes' get a favorable Pac-12 football schedule. So how many wins will they get?," 5 Oct. 2020 Souvestre was training young women to think independently and develop a social conscience. Jamie Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Eleanor Roosevelt’s Example Matters More Than Ever," 5 Oct. 2020 Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolón said his agency knew there was a need to improve even before this summer, when millions marched for change after multiple police killings of Black people struck the nation’s conscience. Grace Toohey,, "Orlando announces new partnerships to analyze policing, target racial inequalities," 30 Sep. 2020 Yet the industry is also populated by people whose priorities are properly aligned, whose conscience consistently overrides their ambition. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "After difficult Derby scratch, Louisville's Tommy Drury points toward Preakness," 29 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conscience.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of conscience

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for conscience

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin conscientia, from conscient-, consciens, present participle of conscire to be conscious, be conscious of guilt, from com- + scire to know — more at science

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Time Traveler for conscience

Time Traveler

The first known use of conscience was in the 13th century

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Statistics for conscience

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conscience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for conscience


How to pronounce conscience (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of conscience

: the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong
: a feeling that something you have done is morally wrong


con·​science | \ ˈkän-shəns How to pronounce conscience (audio) \

Kids Definition of conscience

: a sense of right and wrong and a feeling that what is right should be done Her conscience told her to tell the truth.


con·​science | \ ˈkän-chən(t)s How to pronounce conscience (audio) \

Medical Definition of conscience

: the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego

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Legal Definition of conscience

: exempting persons whose religious beliefs forbid compliance conscience laws, which allow physicians…to refuse to participate in abortions— W. J. Curran

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