noun con·science \ˈkän(t)-shən(t)s\

Definition of conscience

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

  2. 2 archaic :  consciousness

  3. 3 :  conformity to what one considers to be correct, right, or morally good :  conscientiousness

  4. 4 :  sensitive regard for fairness or justice :  scruple a wealthy man with no conscience


play \-ləs\ adjective

in all conscience


in conscience

  1. :  in all fairness She could not in all conscience remain silent.

Examples of conscience in a sentence

  1. … 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

  2. 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

  3. The rat had no morals, no conscience, no scruples, no consideration, no decency … —E. B. White, Charlotte's Web, 1952

  4. 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

  5. The thief must have had an attack of conscience, because he returned the wallet with nothing missing from it.

Origin and Etymology of 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

First Known Use: 13th century

CONSCIENCE Defined for English Language Learners


noun con·science \ˈkän(t)-shən(t)s\

Definition of conscience for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


noun con·science \ˈkän-shəns\

Definition of conscience for Students

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

Word Root of conscience

The Latin word scīre, meaning “to know” or “to understand,” gives us the root sci. Words from the Latin scīre have something to do with knowing or understanding. Science is the understanding of the world and how everything in it works. A person's conscience is the knowledge of right and wrong and the feeling that he or she should do right. Anything that is conscious knows what it is feeling.

Medical Dictionary


noun con·science \ˈkän-chən(t)s\

Medical Definition of conscience

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

Law Dictionary


adjective con·science

Legal Definition of conscience

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

Seen and Heard

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capable of being understood in two ways

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