conscience

noun
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

There’s a political tinge to those details, which presents an illusion of substance and a veneer of social conscience. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Midsommar,” Reviewed: Ari Aster’s Backwards Horror Story of an American Couple in Sweden," 8 July 2019 With the arrival of Roger Ailes, a world of heretofore upstanding devotees to the highest journalistic principles had all been brought to their knees, forced to cast off every qualm of conscience. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Loudest Voice’ Review: A Fox in the Hen House," 27 June 2019 Many felt the pang of conscience; some may have assumed that slavery would expire on its own. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "‘No Property in Man’: An Exchange," 6 June 2019 The best victims of all are so silent that the men who hurt them can move on to ever-more-lucrative positions of political prominence, entirely unbothered by the frantic sirens of conscience. Laurie Penny, The New Republic, "Why It Matters How Powerful Men Treat Women," 24 June 2019 Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, which together are freedom of conscience, as well as freedoms from fear and want are more broadly achieved in America than anywhere else in the world, or at any time in human history. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "A Closer Look at Rockwell’s Four Freedoms," 22 June 2019 Some tech firms saw Google’s crisis of conscience as an opportunity to burnish their own patriotic credentials. Matthew Gault, The New Republic, "The U.S. Government Is Utterly Inept at Keeping Your Data Secure," 12 June 2019 At least 128 prisoners of conscience are currently being held by the Vietnamese government, according to Amnesty International. Hillary Leung, Time, "A U.S. Citizen Detained in Vietnam Could Face the Death Penalty for Subversion," 11 June 2019 But his conscience was weighing on him, especially after the FBI began questioning Proven Data employees in the Alaska case. Renee Dudley, ProPublica, "The Trade Secret Firms That Promised High-Tech Ransomware Solutions Almost Always Just Pay the Hackers," 15 May 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

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 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.

conscience

noun
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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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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Comments on conscience

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