sense

noun
\ ˈsen(t)s How to pronounce sense (audio) \

Definition of sense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a meaning conveyed or intended : import, signification especially : one of a set of meanings a word or phrase may bear especially as segregated in a dictionary entry
2a : the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organs
b : a specialized function or mechanism (such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimuli
c : the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (such as movement or thought)
3 : conscious awareness or rationality usually used in plural finally came to his senses
4a : a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation a good sense of balance
b : a definite but often vague awareness or impression felt a sense of insecurity a sense of danger
c : a motivating awareness a sense of shame
d : a discerning awareness and appreciation her sense of humor
5 : consensus the sense of the meeting
6a : capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response : intelligence
b : sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality also : agreement with or satisfaction of such power this decision makes sense
7 : one of two opposite directions especially of motion (as of a point, line, or surface)

sense

verb
sensed; sensing

Definition of sense (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to perceive by the senses (see sense entry 1 sense 2)
b : to be or become conscious of sense danger
3 : to detect automatically especially in response to a physical stimulus (such as light or movement)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for sense

Synonyms: Noun

feel, feeling, sensation

Synonyms: Verb

feel, perceive, scent, see, smell, taste

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for sense

Noun

sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence. a choice showing good sense common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge. common sense tells me it's wrong judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity. they relied on her judgment for guidance wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average. a leader of rare wisdom

Examples of sense in a Sentence

Noun

There is an unnerving sense now that technology is driving the culture rather than the reverse. Machines and sites and software are breeding at an exponential clip, and we hapless humans race around trying to adapt. — Steven Johnson, Discover, July 2006 The caricature of neurotic nuns who specialized in corporal punishment and guilt crumbles before the countless examples of women religious who made the difference in determining that a child would eat, or be safe, or have any sense of dignity at all. — Luke Timothy Johnson, Commonweal, 22 Sept. 2006 Because Updike shrinks from giving any real credence to the ideology that drives his plot (in both senses of that word), the book becomes a temporarily enthralling, but ultimately empty shaggy dog story. — Jonathan Raban, New York Review of Books, 13 July 2006 Less distinguished people experience a similar tangling of the senses, some reporting that they can taste the words they speak or see the colors of certain words or numbers. This confounding of perception—called synesthesia—was thought to affect at most about 4 percent of the population, but University College London psychologist Jamie Ward has uncovered the best evidence yet that we may all have a bit of synesthesia. — Kathryn Garfield, Discover, December 2006 All of my senses were on the alert for danger. We had a sense that something wasn't quite right. His senses were clear despite his illness.

Verb

The latest feature on air conditioners is a big new plug to help prevent fires. The plug shuts down power when it senses that the air conditioner cord is damaged. Consumer Reports, July 2005 With very little provocation, magic might have been flying back and forth in an unpleasant and damaging manner. Sensing the danger, Kate stepped between them and raised her hands. "Let us have no more of this. There is a confusion to be cleared up, and I cannot do that in the middle of a brannigan," she said. — John Morressy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, October/November 2004 In Pecnik, he had instantly sensed a kindred spirit. As a boy Pecnik had strapped homemade parachutes to hamsters and tossed them (without harm) from his sixth-story bedroom window; by the time he joined the Croatian national team he was making his own jumpsuits. — William Speed Weed, Popular Science, July 2003 She immediately sensed my dislike. A motion detector can sense movement.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But with no sense of when the onslaught of the algae, known as sargassum, will end, others are much more worried. Andrea Navarro, BostonGlobe.com, "Cancun has a nasty seaweed problem, and tourists are staying away," 16 July 2019 What is the event that can inspire them with the sense of wonder that the Apollo Moon landings did for my generation? Vahe Peroomian, The Conversation, "Young Americans deserve a 21st-century Moonshot to Mars," 15 July 2019 Johnson was apparently the only person around with any sense of prudence and balance. John O'sullivan, National Review, "What to Make of the U.K. Ambassador’s Tiff with Trump," 13 July 2019 Due the on-going nature of the transfer saga, plenty reacted to the news on Twitter with a sense of relief rather than excitement... SI.com, "Antoine Griezmann: Twitter Reacts as Barcelona Confirm the Signing of Forward From Atletico Madrid," 12 July 2019 For those who knew her best, with many of her friends since early childhood, Victoria was a life-long prankster with a sense of humor and command of mimicry that could send her audience to the floor! sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/10," 10 July 2019 To its credit, the Trump administration has injected NASA with a sense of urgency by setting the 2024 landing goal. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along," 9 July 2019 Fortunately, the actor doesn’t seem to be letting the inevitable shamers and haters get to her; in fact, she’s taken it upon herself to personally reply — with a sense of humor. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Shay Mitchell Responds to Instagram Users Shaming Her Pregnancy," 5 July 2019 From Hyde Park to North Mayfair, neighborhood holiday celebrations throughout the city were lively, lighthearted and filled with a shared sense of community pride on this quintessential American holiday. Christy Gutowski, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago’s neighborhoods celebrate July Fourth: ‘I just tell her it’s the God Bless America day.’," 4 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But just as important is the imaginative reality of the viewer’s effort to sense them as humans, absolutely identical in value and dignity to any person in our most intimate circle of acquaintance. Philip Kennicott, The Denver Post, "Commentary: We used to think photos like this could change the world, but what needs to change is who we are," 28 June 2019 But just as important is the imaginative reality of the viewer’s effort to sense them as humans, absolutely identical in value and dignity to any person in our most intimate circle of acquaintance. Washington Post, "We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are.," 27 June 2019 To hear is to sense your physical reality all around you. Chris Richards, chicagotribune.com, "Commentary: Hearing a Michael Jackson song still feels good; listening has become too painful.," 25 June 2019 Make-up and global beauty major L’Oreal was among the first to sense this shift. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Brands prefer Indian social media influencers with credible, even if fewer, followers," 11 June 2019 The lions liked to do this sometimes, friezelike, a sort of hermeneutic dash, body sloping forward, head turned, to sense the mood in the den. Anne Carson, Harper's magazine, "From a manuscript in progress. Carson’s collection of performance pieces," 10 June 2019 To do that, Cortana (or another agent) needed to be able to sense the world around it. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Cortana AI gives programmable bots listening and decisionmaking skills," 2 May 2019 Animals have certain advantages that humans lack—the ability to sense the Earth's magnetic field is among them. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Some Humans Can Detect the Earth's Magnetic Field," 19 Mar. 2019 Its finale unleashed a powerful ancient force into the world, while augmented thief Sancia now has more control over her abilities to sense magical objects. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019," 30 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sense

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b

History and Etymology for sense

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French sen, sens sensation, feeling, mechanism of perception, meaning, from Latin sensus, from sentire to perceive, feel; perhaps akin to Old High German sinnan to go, strive, Old English sith journey — more at send

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sense

Statistics for sense

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sense

The first known use of sense was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sense

sense

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one of the five natural powers (touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing) through which you receive information about the world around you
: a physical feeling : something that your body experiences
: a particular feeling : an emotion that you are aware of

sense

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sense (Entry 2 of 2)

: to understand or be aware of (something) without being told about it or having evidence that it is true
of a machine : to detect the presence or occurrence of (something)

sense

noun
\ ˈsens How to pronounce sense (audio) \

Kids Definition of sense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, taste, or touch) of the body that involves the action and effect of a stimulus on a sense organ
2 : awareness arrived at through or as if through the senses He felt a sense of danger.
3 : a particular sensation or kind of sensation I lost my sense of balance.
4 : the ability to make wise decisions
5 : an awareness or understanding of something a sense of humor a sense of pride
6 : a reason or excuse based on intelligence or good judgment There is no sense in continuing.
7 : a logical, sensible, or practical thing, act, or way of doing Saving money for the future makes sense.
8 : a meaning or one of a set of meanings a word, phrase, or story may have

sense

verb
sensed; sensing

Kids Definition of sense (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be or become aware of My cat can sense the approach of a storm.

sense

noun
\ ˈsen(t)s How to pronounce sense (audio) \

Medical Definition of sense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organs
b : a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimuli
c : the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (as movement or thought)
2 : a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation a good sense of balance
sensed; sensing

Medical Definition of sense (Entry 2 of 2)

: to perceive by the senses

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sense

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sense

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sense

Spanish Central: Translation of sense

Nglish: Translation of sense for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sense for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sense

Comments on sense

What made you want to look up sense? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!