emo·​tion | \ i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio) \

Definition of emotion

1a : a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body
b : a state of feeling
c : the affective aspect of consciousness : feeling
2a : excitement
b obsolete : disturbance

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Synonyms for emotion


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feeling, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation. feeling denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion; it may suggest the mere existence of a response but imply nothing about the nature or intensity of it. the feelings that once moved me are gone emotion carries a strong implication of excitement or agitation but, like feeling, encompasses both positive and negative responses. the drama portrays the emotions of adolescence affection applies to feelings that are also inclinations or likings. a memoir of childhood filled with affection for her family sentiment often implies an emotion inspired by an idea. her feminist sentiments are well known passion suggests a very powerful or controlling emotion. revenge became his ruling passion

Examples of emotion in a Sentence

a display of raw emotion The defendant showed no emotion when the verdict was read. She was overcome with emotion at the news of her friend's death.
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Recent Examples on the Web Fear has always been a primitive, basic emotion that allowed us, as animals, to survive. Jd Linville, Variety, 1 Oct. 2021 Because guilt, feeling guilty about something, is a very human emotion. Steve Baltin, Forbes, 26 Sep. 2021 There was visible emotion between the first and second quarters during a sweet tribute to the late Terry Donahue, the former great UCLA coach who died July 4 at the age of 77. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2021 Fear is an extremely useful emotion when one is being charged at by an angry moose or when rescuing kittens from a burning house. Anna Pulley, chicagotribune.com, 31 Aug. 2021 Poetry, the famous saying has it, is emotion recollected in tranquility; comedy is indignation reanimated with style, pain, and annoyance, forced to wear a funny hat and perform. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 24 Aug. 2021 Grief is not an emotion most people tend to pursue. BostonGlobe.com, 12 Aug. 2021 Fear is a deeply unpleasant emotion, and Republicans have become expert at stoking it, on the one hand, and transforming it into anger on the other. Mary L. Trump, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Shame is a universal emotion that plays out both privately and publicly, said Siopis. Rebecca Cairns, CNN, 5 Aug. 2021

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

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for emotion

Middle French, from emouvoir to stir up, from Old French esmovoir, from Latin emovēre to remove, displace, from e- + movēre to move

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Time Traveler for emotion

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The first known use of emotion was in 1579

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Statistics for emotion

Last Updated

6 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Emotion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emotion. Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for emotion



English Language Learners Definition of emotion

: a strong feeling (such as love, anger, joy, hate, or fear)


emo·​tion | \ i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio) \

Kids Definition of emotion

: strong feeling (as anger, love, joy, or fear) often accompanied by a physical reaction She flushed with emotion.


emo·​tion | \ i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio) \

Medical Definition of emotion

1 : the affective aspect of consciousness
2 : a state of feeling
3 : a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body — compare affect

Other Words from emotion

emotional \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce emotion (audio) \ adjective
emotionality \ -​ˌmō-​shə-​ˈnal-​ət-​ē How to pronounce emotion (audio) \ noun, plural emotionalities
emotionally \ -​ˈmō-​shnə-​lē, -​shən-​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce emotion (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on emotion

Nglish: Translation of emotion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emotion for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about emotion


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