incense

1 of 3

noun

in·​cense ˈin-ˌsen(t)s How to pronounce incense (audio)
1
: material used to produce a fragrant odor when burned
2
: the perfume exhaled from some spices and gums when burned
broadly : a pleasing scent
3
: pleasing attention : flattery

incense

2 of 3

verb (1)

in·​cense ˈin-ˌsen(t)s How to pronounce incense (audio)
incensed; incensing

transitive verb

1
: to apply or offer incense to
2
: to perfume with incense

incense

3 of 3

verb (2)

in·​cense in-ˈsen(t)s How to pronounce incense (audio)
incensed; incensing

transitive verb

1
: to arouse the extreme anger or indignation of
2
archaic : to cause (a passion or emotion) to become aroused

Examples of incense in a Sentence

Noun the heavenly incense of spring flowers count on the office manager to spread the incense whenever there's a visiting VIP from the head office
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In front of a wall of Catholic icons in gold frames, the smoke of copal, the Mesoamerican incense, cut swirls through shafts of sunlight. Flora Stubbs, Travel + Leisure, 5 Feb. 2024 Commonly, these include food offerings and the burning of incense at home altars. Mario Poceski, The Conversation, 5 Feb. 2024 Each volador takes a turn walking around the tree with the incense and flowers, and sprinkling it with holy water and aguardiente. Leila Miller, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2023 Resins are typically derived from the sap or sap-like substances of various trees and plants and have been used for various purposes throughout human history, including as adhesives, in the production of varnishes, for incense, and in traditional medicine. Erik Kain, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Trees shook in the wind outside, but Ahmadi’s two-story house in the Northeast district of Washington was warm and smelled of incense; candles were lit on almost every surface on the first floor, which felt like a smoky tea room in Khartoum. Alexis Okeowo, Vogue, 30 Jan. 2024 The smell of incense and the sight of turntable listening stations make any patron feel welcome to the evanescent world of records. Miami Staff, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Lastly, the lingering notes of smoky incense and amber infuse the perfect touch of warmth and sophistication. Danielle Sinay, Glamour, 13 Nov. 2023 An older man was performing a ritual of sorts with a little brass bell, burning coals and incense. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023
Verb
She was incensed by the foolishness and incompetence of the men running the nation and believed that women were better suited to solve America’s problems. Jonathan W. White, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Feb. 2024 As the 2024 primary elections get started, most 18-29 year-olds remain skeptical of Trump and incensed by the GOP’s assault on reproductive rights. Eric Klinenberg, TIME, 9 Feb. 2024 Judge to rule over media leaks They were particularly incensed at the family’s and the attorneys’ cooperation with the online celebrity website TMZ, which has a special planned on the murder and Courtney Clenney’s travails, for some time next week. Charles Rabin, Miami Herald, 7 Feb. 2024 His audience was already incensed about an Instagram post, uploaded the day before by a couple of local Muslim teenagers, praising the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, a 17th-century ruler regarded as an oppressor by far-right Hindus and a hero by many Muslims. Parth M.n., Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2023 According to a deep-dive in The New York Times, the Swift-Kelce romance has incensed certain corners of the MAGA movement who are worried about Trump’s chances in the fall (assuming he’s officially nominated and his last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, doesn’t pull off a spectacular upset). James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Jan. 2024 Some were particularly incensed that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), who is Jewish, addressed the gathering. Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2023 The men were visibly incensed, according to my friend. Hazlitt, 16 Nov. 2023 Some House Republicans were incensed at the extension, which is designed to buy more time to reach a compromise. CBS News, 13 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English encens, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin incensum, from Latin, neuter of incensus, past participle of incendere to set on fire, from in- + -cendere to burn; akin to Latin candēre to glow — more at candid

Verb (2)

Middle English encensen, probably from Latin incensus, past participle of incendere to set on fire, provoke

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of incense was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near incense

Cite this Entry

“Incense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incense. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

incense

1 of 2 noun
in·​cense ˈin-ˌsen(t)s How to pronounce incense (audio)
1
a
: material used to produce a fragrant odor when burned
b
: the odor so produced
2
: a pleasing scent

incense

2 of 2 verb
in·​cense
in-ˈsen(t)s
incensed; incensing
: to make very angry

More from Merriam-Webster on incense

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