con·​scious·​ness | \ˈkän(t)-shəs-nəs \

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

But its disappearance left behind a compelling mystery, one kept in the public consciousness for years by the tireless efforts of Franklin’s widow. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Strands of hair shed light on doomed 19th-century Arctic expedition," 30 Sep. 2018 But interestingly, the phrase first entered the American consciousness via a concurring opinion in a seminal Supreme Court case. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "What 'The Twilight Zone' has to do with one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in history," 28 Sep. 2018 Breasts are something of a Rorschach test in the female consciousness. Jolene Edgar, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need To Know About The Non-Surgical Breast Lift," 17 Aug. 2018 Hamilton, who scholars believe was born in 1755 or 1757, was perhaps one of the most important Founding Fathers who only recently re-emerged into the American consciousness. Erin B. Logan, Washington Post, "Alexander Hamilton, immigrant and statesman, dies at 47 — or 49," 12 July 2018 The Ku Klux Klan is back in the public consciousness, and in cinemas as well. Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Multiple Movies About the KKK Are in the Works," 12 July 2018 Gua Sha therapy has only recently come into the American consciousness, but health practitioners in China have been using it for centuries to aid in lymphatic drainage and increase blood circulation. Olivia Hall, The Seattle Times, "Overstressed? 15 wellness trends to help you relax," 3 July 2018 By contrast, there is nothing murky in the class-consciousness of the Powell memo. Jedediah Purdy, The New Republic, "The Remaking of Class," 27 June 2018 From Amy Schumer discussing tampons on 'SNL' to Meghan Markle asking for donations of menstrual products in lieu of gifts for the royal wedding, the topic seems to be leaking into the public consciousness. Cass Bliss, Seventeen, "What Trans & Non-Binary Menstruators Should Know About Periods," 1 June 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for consciousness

The first known use of consciousness was in 1605

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English Language Learners Definition of consciousness

: the condition of being conscious : the normal state of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you

: a person's mind and thoughts

: knowledge that is shared by a group of people


con·​scious·​ness | \ˈkän-shəs-nəs \

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 \

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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