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

According to their investors, this is good for their bottom lines, not just their consciences. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Tech’s Costly Health Benefits Pay Dividends," 2 Mar. 2019 No, in American poetry, politics was the domain of the few and the fearless, poets like Adrienne Rich or Denise Levertov, whose outsize conscience justified such risky behavior. Constance Grady, Vox, "Victorian literature was full of lady detectives," 15 Dec. 2018 GoldLink still made hay out of the proceedings, working in spitfire poetry, bossa-nova beats and a political conscience about gun violence and gentrification to the Tiny Desk. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "GoldLink Drops Miguel-Assisted Track 'Got Friends,' Performs NPR Tiny Desk Concert: Watch," 13 June 2018 However, for our own conscience, our own self-respect and our own desire to join the fray, many of us elders are burning to be meaningfully involved. Steve West, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Grandparents vow to make voices heard | Opinion," 24 Apr. 2018 Laughter ensue as Andrew wrestles with his conscience, Barrymore, and his failure as Hamlet. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Theatre Southwest stages 'I Hate Hamlet'," 11 Apr. 2018 By the 1970s, James Baldwin was done appealing to America’s conscience. Tyler Mitchell, Vogue, "Meet Kiki Layne and Stephan James, the Breakout Stars of If Beale Street Could Talk," 11 Dec. 2018 But by the time the route’s celebrity was cemented in the American conscience, its demise was well underway. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 Politicians with a conscience (example: those who think immigrant children shouldn't be housed in cages) can now function as the legislative branch is supposed to, conducting real oversight on an executive branch that has, until now, faced none. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "A Pep Talk for Democrats: It's OK. We Won.," 7 Nov. 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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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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