con·​scious·​ness | \ ˈkän(t)-shəs-nəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio) \

Essential Meaning of consciousness

1 : the condition of being conscious : the normal state of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you She experienced a brief loss of consciousness. = She lost consciousness [=became unconscious] briefly. He slowly regained consciousness [=became conscious again; woke up] after the surgery.
2 : a person's mind and thoughts The medication caused her to enter an altered state of consciousness.
3 : knowledge that is shared by a group of people The events have become part of the national consciousness. a crisis that has faded from the public consciousness [=that the public no longer remembers or thinks about]

Full Definition of consciousness

1a : the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
b : the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
c : awareness especially : concern for some social or political cause The organization aims to raise the political consciousness of teenagers.
2 : the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind
3 : the totality of conscious states of an individual
4 : the normal state of conscious life regained consciousness
5 : the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes

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Examples of consciousness in a Sentence

The medication caused her to enter an altered state of consciousness. The events have become part of the national consciousness. He hopes that he can raise public consciousness of the disease.
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Recent Examples on the Web In summer and fall of 2020, the cottagecore movement burst into the public consciousness with its cozy and idyllic depictions of a less industrialized life. Pearse Anderson, Wired, 9 Sep. 2021 Yet growing frustration over how homeless people are being treated under the Gloria administration burst into the public consciousness Monday night during a protest outside the mayor’s Mission Hills home — for an unusual reason. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Sep. 2021 The investigation into Moïse’s killing is fast fading from the public consciousness. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 3 Sep. 2021 But Dean, who came to the forefront in the ’90s as a Young British Artist and crossed over into mainstream consciousness with her crusade to save film from digital obliteration, welcomed the no-excuses opportunity to work. Julie Belcove, Robb Report, 22 Aug. 2021 Within weeks of that statement, the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the state and the country, and the violence at Souza faded from public consciousness., 14 Aug. 2021 Walking along, Guy sees Molotov Girl, and the sight of her propels him into consciousness. Anthony Lan, The New Yorker, 13 Aug. 2021 There was Souki of the Montreal Expos, who resembled nothing so much as a Pez dispenser hexed into consciousness. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2021 But in the last several months a litany of new disasters produced by extreme weather have seared themselves into public consciousness. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'consciousness.' 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 consciousness

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for consciousness

see conscious entry 1

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Learn More About consciousness

Time Traveler for consciousness

Time Traveler

The first known use of consciousness was in 1605

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Dictionary Entries Near consciousness




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Statistics for consciousness

Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Consciousness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for consciousness


con·​scious·​ness | \ ˈkän-shəs-nəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio) \

Kids Definition of consciousness

1 : the condition of being mentally awake and active Following surgery, she slowly regained consciousness.
2 : the part of the mind involving thought and awareness The memory is preserved in my consciousness.
3 : knowledge of something specified News reports raised consciousness of the problem.


con·​scious·​ness | \ ˈkän-chə-snəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio) \

Medical Definition of consciousness

1 : the totality in psychology of sensations, perceptions, ideas, attitudes, and feelings of which an individual or a group is aware at any given time or within a given time span altered states of consciousness, such as sleep, dreaming and hypnosis— Bob Gaines
2 : waking life (as that to which one returns after sleep, trance, or fever) in which one's normal mental powers are present the ether wore off and the patient regained consciousness
3 : the upper part of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes


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