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)

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Synonyms for sense

Synonyms: Noun

feel, feeling, sensation

Synonyms: Verb

feel, perceive, scent, see, smell, taste

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Known for his high-wattage party frocks, barely there bodysuits, and logo sweatshirt dresses, Cowan, who was a 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, dresses gutsy girls with an outspoken sense of style. Rachel Marlowe, Vogue, "Inside Christian Cowan x The Powerpuff Girls’s International Women’s Day Celebration," 11 Mar. 2019 But that shared sense of helplessness has grown alongside another phenomenon: self-care. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Yes, It's Trendy Right Now — But What Exactly Is Self-Care?," 14 Jan. 2019 All along the canals, a marvelous sense of composition, of balance between water, trees, buildings, and sky. Steve King, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why We Keep Going Back to Amsterdam," 24 Dec. 2018 The Growth of a Movement Most recently, in response to mounting research about how social networks and a total sense of well-being contribute to good health, ChurchFIT developed a mental health ministry. Marty Munson, Woman's Day, "One Woman Is Changing Lives By Bringing Health and Fitness to Church," 15 Nov. 2018 Carrie Tharp, Neiman’s chief digital officer, said the RealReal arrangement didn’t make sense at the time for the retailer or its customers. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Keeping Chanel on Top in the Post-Lagerfeld Era," 22 Feb. 2019 Touch doesn’t give us an accurate sense of reality. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 Would the person then sense light on both sides of the retina? Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 But email folders make sense now, and my apps are all updated, save for a few deletions (my sincere apologies to HQ and Pokémon GO). Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "How I KonMari’d My Inbox (and My Desktop, and My Phone)," 28 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Often, these dogs become therapy dogs, providing affection to those in need, while also sensing — and being able to react to — health problems. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "9 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You, According to Experts," 25 Feb. 2019 Many young managers sense a jarring loss of trust among former peers. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "When a Promotion Means Losing Friends at Work," 26 Feb. 2019 Labor unions got on board too, sensing an opportunity to expand the safety net for workers without needing to pass another massive piece of social reform so soon after the New Deal. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Is employer-sponsored insurance really a good deal for workers?," 7 Feb. 2019 During the body of the meeting, panelists discussed work on commercial remote sensing licenses, launch regulations that will stem from the second space policy directive, the best strategies to return to the moon and future exploration missions. Sarah Lewin, Scientific American, "Trump Orders “Space Force,” Signs Space-Traffic Policy," 19 June 2018 If a family agrees on a price too soon, most kidnappers sense the chance to up their demand. The Economist, "How kidnapping insurance keeps a lid on ransom inflation," 26 May 2018 Nevertheless, Jia — who was just a college student during the flyby — thought that if a plume existed, Galileo might have sensed its signatures with its magnetometer and plasma wave instruments. Sarah Kaplan, ajc, "Scientists discover new evidence for jets of water on Europa, a target in the search for life," 14 May 2018 Her death riveted the country and, sensing the national mood, de Becker turned his attention to stalkers. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "What Does Gavin de Becker Actually Do for Jeff Bezos?," 8 Feb. 2019 But now that Jacob is here, Susan senses a strong connection between the siblings. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "A Body Language Expert Analyzes Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher With Their New Baby Boy," 27 Jan. 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for sense

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sense

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

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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

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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

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