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

In that sense, Dyer argues that breaking down immigration barriers for AI researchers will help diversify the AI talent pool and, ultimately, make AI better for everyone. Wired, "Should AI Researchers Get Special Access to Visas?," 10 Sep. 2019 In that sense, the special election in North Carolina's 9th District on Tuesday could also be clarifying. Steve Kornacki, NBC News, "This North Carolina House race will show if Trump's coalition is falling apart," 10 Sep. 2019 Hernandez was an ace in every sense of the word; his No. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "MVP Candidate Ketel Marte Fueling Diamondbacks' September Surge," 10 Sep. 2019 In one sense, all of these notions of probability can be thought of as versions of self-locating uncertainty. Quanta Magazine, "Where Quantum Probability Comes From," 9 Sep. 2019 While Rivers wasn’t as fortunate in that sense as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has seen each of New England’s AFC East rivals resemble The Three Stooges for much of his career, the before-and-after Raiders picture is stunning in its contrast. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Raiders trade gone bad is familiar good luck for Philip Rivers," 6 Sep. 2019 The side is the higher-confidence play here, but the UNDER 64.5 (-115) makes sense. Skip Snow, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Nebraska Cornhuskers at Colorado Buffaloes odds, picks and best bets," 6 Sep. 2019 With that in mind, Wednesday’s CNN forum devoted solely to the topic is, in a sense, groundbreaking. Justin Worland, Time, "2020 Democrats Will Discuss Climate Change in Prime Time. But Voters Want More Than Talking," 5 Sep. 2019 This was an encore performance in every sense of the phrase: a lap of honor for a beloved national treasure. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "The Nostalgic End of Fleabag," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Twentieth century critics who sensed both the greatness and the modernity of Homer strenuously denied what was in front of their eyes. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Winslow Homer was sentimental. That’s a good thing.," 10 Sep. 2019 Sheldon Richardson, who drew a roughing call and a neutral zone infraction, sensed a bias with the flags. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Freddie Kitchens after Titans’ 43-13 rout: ‘The world is not ending today’," 9 Sep. 2019 Perhaps sensing that this lack of alarm was having the opposite effect on everyone else, the government has unveiled a plethora of measures intended to revive the economy. The Economist, "India’s government is scrambling to revive the economy," 31 Aug. 2019 Science talked with remote sensing specialist Douglas Morton, one of the scientists who is closely watching the blazes. Herton Escobar, Science | AAAS, "‘A little bit of everything is burning.’: A NASA scientist dissects Amazon fires," 30 Aug. 2019 Sapakie said, perhaps sensing the nerves in the room. Carly Breit, PEOPLE.com, "We Tried It: A Class with Jennifer Lopez's Pole Dancing Trainer," 26 Aug. 2019 There simply is no fingerprint sensing technology that can quickly and reliably read a fingerprint through gloves, heavy moisture (such as in the rain), or heavy dirt (such as when one is working at a dirty job when approached by an attacker). Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Gun makers have locked up patents on gun safety devices," 22 Aug. 2019 Probably the most depressing finding from the questionnaire was that most people who had sensed ageism at work noticed it before their 45th birthday. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "A new study measured how men and women experience ageism at work," 7 Aug. 2019 The first few episodes of Season 3, as if sensing that reality is hewing too close to the show's dystopian vision of the world, trades its depictions of emotional and physical torment for a tone of empowerment and rebellion. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Elisabeth Moss Finally Finds Hope in The Handmaid's Tale," 12 June 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

13 Sep 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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