con·​sci·​en·​tious ˌkän(t)-shē-ˈen(t)-shəs How to pronounce conscientious (audio)
: meticulous, careful
a conscientious listener
: governed by or conforming to the dictates of conscience : scrupulous
a conscientious public servant
conscientiously adverb

Did you know?

According to American writer and editor H. L. Mencken, "Conscience is the inner voice which warns us someone may be looking." A person who is conscientious makes sure that if others are watching, they approve of what they see. This is true for someone who is “governed by their conscience” as the oldest sense of the word is defined—as in “a conscientious objector to the war”—but it is also true for the conscientious person paying close, careful attention to the task at hand. Conscientious came to English from French, centuries after Middle English had adopted conscience from Old French; both ultimately come from Latin scire, “to know.”

Choose the Right Synonym for conscientious

upright, honest, just, conscientious, scrupulous, honorable mean having or showing a strict regard for what is morally right.

upright implies a strict adherence to moral principles.

a stern and upright minister

honest stresses adherence to such virtues as truthfulness, candor, or fairness.

known for being honest in business dealings

just stresses conscious choice and regular practice of what is right or equitable.

workers given just compensation

conscientious and scrupulous imply an active moral sense governing all one's actions and painstaking efforts to follow one's conscience.

conscientious in the completion of her assignments
scrupulous in carrying out the terms of the will

honorable suggests a firm holding to codes of right behavior and the guidance of a high sense of honor and duty.

a difficult but honorable decision

Examples of conscientious in a Sentence

He was a good friend to his comrades, a conscientious leader mindful of his men's needs; an upright family man with strong, bright, proud children … Tom Clancy, Without Remorse, 1994
Because Puckett was a conscientious lieutenant … his men did not have to stint on their fire. He had made sure that every man was carrying a basic load of ammunition and then some to spare … Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988
He was shifty about money matters, not conscientious about returning advances, fulfilling contracts, reading manuscripts. Monroe K. Spears, American Ambitions, 1987
She has always been a very conscientious worker. He was conscientious about following the doctor's orders.
Recent Examples on the Web Early last year, when the actress and wellness icon Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in a small Utah courtroom to defend her reputation as a conscientious skier, the playwrights Linus Karp and Joseph Martin took an active interest. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 Experts recommend adopting the positive behaviors of conscientious people, like eating nutritiously, exercising, and taking care of your health, to help reduce your long-term risk of dementia. Sherri Gordon, Health, 6 Dec. 2023 Prince Louis' first tour likely hasn’t happened yet as a consequence of scheduling rather than a conscientious choice. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 31 Jan. 2024 People who were conscientious, extroverted and more agreeable had a lower risk of a dementia diagnosis compared to their more negative and neurotic peers, reported STAT. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Jan. 2024 More conscientious homebuyers will want to know about what weather events generally occur and what kind of vegetation surrounds the property to gauge insurability. Alena Botros, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2024 Set in a small English village in 1967, liberated Marion is exploring the new social freedoms enjoyed by women in the late 1960s while conscientious and self-conscious Cecily runs the local girls school and is Willa’s main carer. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 24 Jan. 2024 Just be conscientious throughout late November to December, as an irksome Mercury retrograde could throw a wrench in holiday travel plans. Nina Kahn, Travel + Leisure, 2 Jan. 2024 Additionally, a 2011 study found that individuals tend to think of their future selves as more agreeable, conscientious, open and having higher self-esteem. Mark Travers, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


see conscience

First Known Use

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of conscientious was in 1603


Dictionary Entries Near conscientious

Cite this Entry

“Conscientious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


con·​sci·​en·​tious ˌkän-chē-ˈen-chəs How to pronounce conscientious (audio)
: guided by or agreeing with one's conscience : scrupulous
: using or done with careful attention
conscientiously adverb
conscientiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on conscientious

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!