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

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 The New Parkway in Oakland was built to reflect both the viewing needs and social consciousness of the surrounding community. Peter Hartlaub,, "Coronavirus closures will devastate Bay Area independent cinemas. Here’s how to help them now," 16 Mar. 2020 Trump is known for his stream-of-consciousness style of speaking, his insults and demeaning nicknames of his opponents. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Trump vs. Sanders: Same venue, but 2 different crowds, 2 different vibes," 6 Mar. 2020 The line captures the penetrating irony Austen uses to expose the knee-jerk and sometimes ruthless social consciousness of her characters. Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Autumn de Wilde’s ‘Emma’ Gets Right About Jane Austen’s Irony," 5 Mar. 2020 His speeches—some of the most iconic of the 20th century—had a profound effect on the national consciousness. National Geographic, "Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?," 15 Jan. 2020 Last year, three little words went viral. was the phrase that defined the middle and end of 2019, a term that was spun, at hyper-speed, into the cultural consciousness by a 24-year-old female rapper out of Houston, Texas. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "“I’m All About That Eco-Hottie Vibe”: Megan Thee Stallion on Selling Her “Hot Girl Summer” Wardrobe on Depop," 15 Jan. 2020 It’s rigorous — rigorous truth, rigorous consciousness. Eric Todisco,, "Nicole Kidman Celebrates Daughter Faith's 9th Birthday with Sweet Throwback Photo," 29 Dec. 2019 And perhaps BlackRock, which preaches — quite properly — about the need for corporate transparency and social consciousness, will someday show us the detailed tax numbers for its PennyMac donations. Allan Sloan, Washington Post, "How one company’s tax avoidance move could be considered okay," 21 Feb. 2020 Lastly, established as a wellness center in the consciousness-expanding heyday of 1960s California, the Esalen Institute long predates current trends with its famed self-actualizing workshops. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Biggest Wellness Travel Trends: Sound Baths, Tickling Helmets, and More," 14 Feb. 2020

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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Statistics for consciousness

Last Updated

19 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Consciousness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for consciousness


How to pronounce consciousness (audio)

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 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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