con·​scious·​ness ˈkän(t)-shəs-nəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio)
: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
: the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
: awareness
especially : concern for some social or political cause
The organization aims to raise the political consciousness of teenagers.
: the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind
: the totality of conscious states of an individual
: the normal state of conscious life
regained consciousness
: the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Since the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 raised the national consciousness about race and discrimination, dozens of Black homeowners have alleged bias in home appraisals. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, 1 June 2023 Though proclamations of impending doom from artificial intelligence are not new, recent developments in generative AI such as the public-facing tool ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, have infiltrated the public consciousness. Terry Castleman, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2023 Tropes like fruitpology permeate the cultural consciousness and exemplify the type of behavior (poor communication skills, low EQ) that made Harvard’s admissions staff feel justified in giving Asians low personality scores. Sanibel Chai, ELLE, 25 May 2023 Tina's contribution to raising consciousness about domestic abuse remains incalculable. Barry Walters,, 24 May 2023 In the battle to keep a traditional folk art alive in the collective consciousness, losing the Ward Museum feels like losing ground. Christine Condon, Baltimore Sun, 11 May 2023 What once had been a multitude of beings with varying cultural and spiritual significations—not to mention consciousnesses of their own—became commodities that held value only when inserted into a by-now self-propelling and endlessly expanding market. Ben Ehrenreich, The New Republic, 10 May 2023 One of the key takeaways will not only be a greater consciousness of mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression but the capacity to respond through greater resilience, creativity, and design as key mechanisms in resolving some of the most challenging business issues of the day. Jonathan Kaufman, Forbes, 5 May 2023 What his story drove home to me was that the most sinister crimes and worse racial injustices have been largely excised from the American consciousness. Sean Woods, Rolling Stone, 16 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'consciousness.' 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 conscious entry 1

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of consciousness was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near consciousness

Cite this Entry

“Consciousness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​scious·​ness ˈkän-chəs-nəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio)
: the condition of being conscious
: the normal state of conscious life in contrast to sleep or an insensible state
: the part of mental life that involves conscious thought and awareness

Medical Definition


con·​scious·​ness ˈkän-chə-snəs How to pronounce consciousness (audio)
: 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 hypnosisBob Gaines
: 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
: the upper part of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
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