noun, often attributive
con·​sen·​sus | \ kən-ˈsen(t)-səs How to pronounce consensus (audio) \

Definition of consensus

1a : general agreement : unanimity the consensus of their opinion, based on reports … from the border— John Hersey
b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned the consensus was to go ahead
2 : group solidarity in sentiment and belief

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Is the phrase consensus of opinion redundant?: Usage Guide

The phrase consensus of opinion, which is not actually redundant (see sense 1a; the sense that takes the phrase is slightly older), has been so often claimed to be a redundancy that many writers avoid it. You are safe in using consensus alone when it is clear you mean consensus of opinion, and most writers in fact do so.

Examples of consensus in a Sentence

Yet despite this and other dust-ups during the convention, the general consensus is that Episcopalians weathered this one with their customary civility intact. — Antonio Ramirez, Commonweal, 12 Sept. 1997 Despite years of debate over the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving, no real consensus has emerged. — Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 30 Nov. 1995 Beyond the general goal of sustainability, there was little consensus at the conference on how to get from here to there. — Constance Holden, Science, 6 July 1990 … it is the consensus of opinion that the Iceni in their geographic isolation remained 'Celtic' … — Antonia Fraser, The Warrior Queens, 1988 Everyone on the council seems to understand the need for consensus. There is a lack of consensus among the citizens. The decision was made by consensus.
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Recent Examples on the Web There is bipartisan consensus that mail-in ballots are the form of voting most vulnerable to fraud. Jessica Huseman, ProPublica, "Voting by Mail Would Reduce Coronavirus Transmission but It Has Other Risks," 24 Mar. 2020 There’s something to be said for working behind the scenes, for building a broad, international consensus through diplomatic channels as opposed to the clumsy flexing of financial muscle. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Now's the time for Team USA leaders to give a definitive answer on Olympic plans," 23 Mar. 2020 Recruiters can be crucial in helping build consensus when, as is so often the case, boards are split. The Economist, "Take me to a leader Corporate headhunters are more powerful than ever," 6 Feb. 2020 That kind of critical consensus is a rare commodity, especially sustained over a stretch of 13 years of chasing trends. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Miranda Lambert always made honest music. But now she says, 'My truth is a lot happier'," 24 Jan. 2020 This approach could be a key element in building consensus when the U.S. sends troops into battle. James A. Baker Iii, WSJ, "Repeal and Replace the War Powers Resolution," 20 Jan. 2020 Within the scientific community, there is an overwhelming consensus—going back decades—that humans are causing global warming. Ellen Boucher, Quartz, "The dangers of depicting Greta Thunberg as a prophet," 17 Dec. 2019 Another gripe: a failure to build consensus on key issues like carbon trading, even as the second week of negotiations wore on. Jean Chemnick, Scientific American, "U.N. Climate Talks Limp to a Disappointing Close," 16 Dec. 2019 Within the scientific community, there is an overwhelming consensus – going back decades – that humans are causing global warming. Ellen Boucher, The Conversation, "The dangers of depicting Greta Thunberg as a prophet," 12 Dec. 2019

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

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for consensus

Latin, from consentire — see consent entry 1

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Time Traveler for consensus

Time Traveler

The first known use of consensus was in 1843

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Statistics for consensus

Last Updated

1 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Consensus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce consensus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of consensus

: a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group

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