emo·​tion i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio)
: 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
: a state of feeling
: the affective aspect of consciousness : feeling
obsolete : disturbance
Choose the Right Synonym for emotion

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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web For Fountain II, presented at Pace Gallery in Chelsea, the 25-year-old artist doubles down on his piece’s currents of emotion, adding in a second performer. Cassandra Pintro, Vogue, 23 Mar. 2023 More:Employee Meal recreates family recipes that evoke emotion and a pride in workers' Mexican heritage Employee Meal, or EM for short, placed No. 3. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 23 Mar. 2023 The pure campiness, catchiness and overblown emotion of those songs have kept them alive and well in the imaginations of Miley’s fans for over a decade. Katie Atkinson, Billboard, 21 Mar. 2023 To hug them and hold them and just look them in the eye and feel that emotion of being in the same place. Karen M. Peterson, Variety, 20 Mar. 2023 But while Johnson tends to lead with emotion when talking about CPS, his rival, Paul Vallas, prefers to speak in statistics. Sarah Macaraeg, Chicago Tribune, 19 Mar. 2023 Despite the uniqueness of the characters’ friendship, Steen’s direction underserves the emotion in their scenes. Jourdain Searles, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar. 2023 At its best, anger is an emotion that acts as a vehicle for change — personal and political, quiet and cultural. Vulture, 16 Mar. 2023 Remember that people buy with emotion first and then apply rationale as to why the purchase is a good investment. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 16 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'emotion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Time Traveler
The first known use of emotion was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near emotion

Cite this Entry

“Emotion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emotion. Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


emo·​tion i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio)
: strong feeling : excitement
: a mental reaction (as anger or fear) marked by strong feeling and usually causing physical effects

Medical Definition


emo·​tion i-ˈmō-shən How to pronounce emotion (audio)
: the affective aspect of consciousness
: a state of feeling
: 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
emotional adjective
emotionality noun
plural emotionalities

More from Merriam-Webster on emotion

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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