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 Anita Hill has come to occupy an almost mythical place in the national feminist consciousness. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 28 Sep. 2021 But the symbols of an ascendant United States—McDonald’s, democracy, capitalism—have lately mingled in the global consciousness with darker American tropes. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 28 Sep. 2021 Tennis features prominently in the Casablanca consciousness. Jessica Iredale, Town & Country, 10 Sep. 2021 The very concept of ownership seems to be one of those things that has evolved in the popular consciousness, Hildrow ventures. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Few television characters truly become embedded in the cultural consciousness — particularly in the modern era of a niche show for every niche interest. Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2021 Major festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork may reign supreme in the consciousness of the average Chicagoan, but the city also has an abundance of new, underground and emerging festivals that celebrate the breadth of Chicago’s music community. Britt Julious,, 3 Sep. 2021 Though not particularly memorable as a film, 1998’s Sliding Doors has stuck around in the public consciousness thanks to an intriguing premise. Keith Phipps, Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2021 In popular consciousness, Navy SEALs have emerged as the elite of the elite. Jonathan W. Jordan, WSJ, 24 Aug. 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

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Consciousness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 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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