conscience

noun

con·​science ˈkän(t)-shən(t)s How to pronounce conscience (audio)
1
a
: 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
conscienceless adjective
Phrases
in all conscience or in conscience
: 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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web As Horton Sheff sat and took notes, a statistic gnawed at her conscience — 74% of Hartford eighth-graders could not read on grade level. Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, 17 June 2024 But the animals in this story, cruelly treated by many of the humans who own them, are the moral conscience of the proceedings. Chris Jones, New York Daily News, 14 June 2024 Anna pops up throughout the episode as a kind of nagging conscience for Mike, asking about his mom and whether the cops ever caught and punished her killer. Noel Murray, Vulture, 9 June 2024 Sweden’s neutrality was more entrenched and more ideological, grounded in the country’s self-image as the conscience of the world, but the country has also long identified with the West. Jussi M. Hanhimäki, Foreign Affairs, 22 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for conscience 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conscience.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of conscience was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near conscience

Cite this Entry

“Conscience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conscience. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

conscience

noun
con·​science ˈkän-chən(t)s How to pronounce conscience (audio)
: knowledge of right and wrong and a feeling one should do what is right

Medical Definition

conscience

noun
con·​science ˈkän-chən(t)s How to pronounce conscience (audio)
: the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego

Legal Definition

conscience

adjective
con·​science
: exempting persons whose religious beliefs forbid compliance
conscience laws, which allow physicians…to refuse to participate in abortionsW. J. Curran
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