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 consciencec : the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego
2 archaic : consciousness
3 : conformity to what one considers to be correct, right, or morally good : conscientiousness
4 : sensitive regard for fairness or justice : scruple a wealthy man with no conscience
consciencelessplay \-ləs\ adjective
in all conscienceor
: in all fairness She could not in all conscience remain silent.
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
The rat had no morals, no conscience, no scruples, no consideration, no decency … —E. B. White, Charlotte's Web, 1952
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 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
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
Definition of conscience for Students
: 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 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
Seen and Heard
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