conscience

noun
con·​science | \ ˈkän(t)-shən(t)s \

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 \ 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

By the 1970s, James Baldwin was done appealing to America’s conscience. Tyler Mitchell, Vogue, "Meet Kiki Layne and Stephan James, the Breakout Stars of If Beale Street Could Talk," 11 Dec. 2018 But by the time the route’s celebrity was cemented in the American conscience, its demise was well underway. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 Politicians with a conscience (example: those who think immigrant children shouldn't be housed in cages) can now function as the legislative branch is supposed to, conducting real oversight on an executive branch that has, until now, faced none. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "A Pep Talk for Democrats: It's OK. We Won.," 7 Nov. 2018 Once in custody and after a good meal and a few hours sleep, Lively felt the need to clear his conscience. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "True crime: The 'dresser drawer murder' at the Claypool Hotel," 13 July 2018 We are led by a spineless group of men and women, tethered to money and re-election, their collective conscience gone with the wind. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Morning Line: After Annapolis killings, Doc asks what the hell is wrong with us," 2 July 2018 Any sentient person who has spent measurable time near a paddock, then or now, could in clear conscience verify that the lines at the betting windows would vanish if gangsters and other persons of ill repute ceased to assemble at racetracks. Richard E. Farley, Town & Country, "The Great American Racetrack War," 9 June 2017 Pompeo accused Cuba of reneging on promises to release them and other prisoners of conscience that date to the Obama administration and ignoring requests to even discuss them. Matthew Lee, The Seattle Times, "US demands answers from Cuba on imprisoned dissidents," 11 Dec. 2018 Such cases—usually a result of mistaken identity—momentarily jolt society’s conscience. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, "In Latin America, Awash in Crime, Citizens Impose Their Own Brutal Justice," 6 Dec. 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for conscience

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

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More Definitions for conscience

conscience

noun

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

conscience

noun
con·​science | \ ˈkän-shəns \

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.

conscience

noun
con·​science | \ ˈkän-chən(t)s \

Medical Definition of conscience

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

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conscience

adjective
con·​science

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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More from Merriam-Webster on conscience

Spanish Central: Translation of conscience

Nglish: Translation of conscience for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of conscience for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about conscience

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