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

With help from Nicaraguan rapper Erick Nicoya, this is political conscience with a beat. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Viva Friday Playlist: The Best New Latin Music From Bad Bunny, Silvestre Dangond & More," 29 June 2018 Bullock explained that Louis is already a very protective big brother, but lying to his mom led to a guilty conscience during a recent incident. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Sandra Bullock on Joy of Raising Siblings: 'There Are Moments When They Want to Kill Each Other'," 17 May 2018 Two men involved in a conscience award, from a league that seems to have little of that quality. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Recording shows NFL owners’ thinking," 25 Apr. 2018 Nor are there, precisely, always: people to meet, feelings to feel, or new worlds to visit — unless this world is the inner ivory tower of one’s own conscience, which DeWitt believes is worth our determined scrutiny and endless respect. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Getting Tricked by Helen DeWitt," 9 July 2018 Loyal Americans, like the housewife who wrote to Hedda Hopper, could go to the movies with a clear conscience. Noah Isenberg, The New Republic, "Making the Movies Un-American," 3 July 2018 Not everyone enjoyed the tutelage of a charismatic teacher who was part exacting literary conscience, part Pied Piper. The Economist, "Capturing the voice of a brilliant, unorthodox teacher of literature," 28 June 2018 In the first film, Blunt's FBI agent served as both an audience surrogate and a conscience. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' lacks ambition of the original," 28 June 2018 But for some, Michael Blagg's suicide attempt was a clear sign of a guilty conscience. Susan Mallie, CBS News, "Colorado man convicted of wife's murder gets a second shot at freedom," 12 May 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

8 Oct 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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