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

Her voice, in all its forms, has become the liberal conscience on a conservative court, one that speaks out in defense of minorities, immigrants, criminal defendants and death row inmates. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "'The People's Justice:' After decade on Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor is most outspoken on bench and off," 8 Aug. 2019 There are benefits to this: Golf is never far from the sports world’s conscience, and the PGA no longer feels like an afterthought. Daniel Rapaport,, "Eight Takeaways From the PGA Tour's Regular Season," 6 Aug. 2019 To many of today’s black writers and critics, Morrison’s role in creating possibilities for a new generation was equally as important as her role as America’s conscience. Caille Millner,, "Toni Morrison, conscience of a nation and first black woman to win Nobel Prize in literature, dead at 88," 6 Aug. 2019 Nagy kept that kick front and center within the team’s conscience during spring practices. Rich Campbell,, "Bears kickers suddenly are thriving in their competition: ‘Maybe I’m crazy, but I think right now they’re doing decent.'," 4 Aug. 2019 By then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s conjugal viewing of the solar eclipse (taxpayer bill: $33,000) or Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s dining room set ($31,000) barely left a blip in the collective conscience. Jacob S. Hacker, Washington Post, "The missteps and misdeeds of Trump’s Cabinet," 1 Aug. 2019 And many cost-conscience homeowners are considering solar panels, which convert the sun’s energy into clean electricity. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "Is Going Solar Right for You?," 27 July 2019 Growing up as a minority in America changed my heart and conscience. Aisha Sultan, Twin Cities, "Aisha Sultan: Going back to where you came from," 25 July 2019 That maybe as painful as a guilty conscience is, nothing hurts more than knowing what causes that pain to begin with. Phil Pirrello, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'The Bourne Supremacy' Spawned Action Imitators," 23 July 2019

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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More Definitions for conscience



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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Comments on conscience

What made you want to look up conscience? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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