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

The building stirs the soul and pricks the conscience. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "The national African-American museum still stirs the soul — and drops hints of what to expect at the Obama Presidential Center," 11 July 2018 The presidents who could be the conscience of a nation gone off the rails, but aren’t, are mostly white guys, born here. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Morning Line: After Annapolis killings, Doc asks what the hell is wrong with us," 2 July 2018 For more than 25 years, Fischman was the conscience and voice of the Annapolis news organization, writing scathing, insightful and always exacting editorials about the community. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Capital Gazette shooting victim Gerald Fischman: Clever and quirky voice of a community newspaper," 29 June 2018 The late Steelers owner always was the conscience of the league. Peter King, SI.com, "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You: Peter King Says Farewell to SI’s Monday Morning QB," 21 May 2018 America has had gold rushes and silver booms and even a uranium boom, but the boom presently happening in rural Ohio shocks the conscience. Justin Nobel, Longreads, "A Toxic Tour Through Underground Ohio," 30 Jan. 2018 This seat should be the conscience of the Democratic Party. David Freedlander, Daily Intelligencer, "The 28-Year-Old Progressive Hoping to Unseat One of the Top Democrats in Congress," 25 June 2018 By its nature, totalitarianism conspires to keep the conscience in a state of slumber. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Ismail Kadare: The Conscience of His People," 15 June 2018 Our lives are in the hands of God, who knows our consciences and actions in this complex time. Jorge Poblete And Patrick J. Mcdonnell, latimes.com, "Pope accepts resignations of three Chilean bishops tied to Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal," 11 June 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

10 Sep 2018

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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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