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.

Other Words from conscience

conscienceless \ ˈkän(t)-​shən(t)s-​ləs How to pronounce conscience (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.
Recent Examples on the Web When it was revisited, CT Humanities worked with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to define what a site of conscience is and which Connecticut sites qualify. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 5 Aug. 2022 For much larger organizations, such as the Kennedy Center, the scale of its program-printing program has become less a matter of cost than of conscience. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 23 July 2022 One may not like seeing his tax dollars being wasted on a money pit but not wanting his tax dollars used to facilitate abortions is a matter of conscience. cleveland, 21 July 2022 Coming in a variety of fresh scents like cedarwood eucalyptus, cucumber sage and coconut sage, this natural deodorant for men and women keeps you feeling fresh, with an eco-friendly conscience. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, 18 July 2022 Still, Banchero will always serve as a measuring stick in the greater conscience. Matt Young, Chron, 15 July 2022 While shoppers can still score great deals on a variety of electronics, budget-conscience shoppers are taking advantage of Amazon's unique discounts on regular household items during its annual sales event that ends on July 13. Elisabeth Buchwald, USA TODAY, 12 July 2022 As far as Gallinari goes, does anyone dispute that the Celtics had a dire need for someone with his toolbox as a 6-foot-10-inch shooter of high percentage (38.2 percent from three in his career) and absolutely no conscience? Globe Staff,, 6 July 2022 Diplomats from the Western countries that have refused to take back their citizens have described el-Hol as a festering sore on the global conscience. Mustafa Salim, Washington Post, 5 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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conscience clause

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Conscience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for conscience


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



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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