sense

noun
\ˈsen(t)s \

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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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

To simply describe the plot is to undersell the book's key quality — the way DelBianco's arresting, lyrical sentences seem to activate all five senses, plus your sense of fear. refinery29.com, "How Rae DelBianco Went From Cattle Farmer To Bookstagram Queen To Literary Darling — All By 25," 13 July 2018 What was your sense about that aspect of the White House being updated and informed about this Russia collusion investigation and candidate Trump? Fox News, "Rudy Giuliani: Strzok's defense is ridiculous, pathetic," 13 July 2018 Whatever their sense of political humiliation, both places thrived, with new access to colonial markets eventually driving industrialisation. The Economist, "The siren call of separatism," 12 July 2018 China’s sprawling fashion capital, Shanghai, has long been revered for its idiosyncratic sense of style—a mix of Eastern and Western influences historically chalked up to the influx of Hollywood films during the ’20s. Vogue, "25 Ways to Gucci: Shanghai’s Style Remix," 6 July 2018 Although other teams – including Belgium, Brazil, and Argentina – have also been praised for their fashion sense – Nigeria has drawn the most attention. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Meanwhile in ... Russia, some World Cup 2018 observers are calling Nigeria 'the coolest team ever'," 5 July 2018 Grant is intriguingly cast as Thorpe, portraying the politician’s general geniality and charisma as well as his penchant for risk-taking and his sense of entitlement. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Sex, Lies, and Bunnies in A Very English Scandal," 3 July 2018 Beatrice has long been known for her bold, quirky sense of style. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Has Changed Princess Beatrice's Style—Here's How," 1 July 2018 The only comparison anyone could find was the liberation of Paris in 1944 because of the sense of an opening onto brighter futures, and the ways in which people from all classes and backgrounds merged and melded in the streets. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "France’s Ghosts Return for the World Cup," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On the unfriendly side, China sensed there was little danger in turning the Spratley Islands into an armed valve of the South China Sea. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "President Nobama," 16 Jan. 2018 Other European leaders sense her weakness and aren't eager to help. Leonid Bershidsky, chicagotribune.com, "Oh, the symbolism of Germany's World Cup exit," 28 June 2018 In these challenges, financial-services companies sense an opportunity. Amy Merrick, The Atlantic, "Should Businesses Help Employees Pay Off Their Student Loans?," 18 May 2018 But while Flippy can sense the meat’s internal temperature and, yes, flip the patties, workers pick up a lot of slack: Humans still need to actually put the patties on the grill, take them off when they’re done and add toppings. Ben Meyerson, RedEye Chicago, "'Westworld' gets real, Kristen Wiig turns evil, and more conversation starters for your weekend," 16 Mar. 2018 Announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, the L’Oreal UV Sense is a battery-free wearable that sits on a thumbnail to sense ultraviolet exposure in real-time. Sunset, "The New Accessory That Keeps an Eye on Your Sun Exposure," 22 Jan. 2018 In this way, if a leak is sensed, the water will be shut off automatically. Melissa Rolland, courant.com, "Homeowner Vacation To-Do List," 9 July 2018 That’s because researchers have created a new type of artificial nerve that can sense touch, process information, and communicate with other nerves much like those in our own bodies do. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "New artificial nerves could transform prosthetics," 31 May 2018 Hopefully listeners can sense that and find some sort of connection in there. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Phoenix local music picks for May: Hogjaw, Technicolors, the Woodworks, Intent, Sunday at Noon," 3 May 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.

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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

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

Verb

see sense entry 1

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Learn More about sense

Statistics for sense

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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 \

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 \

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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Comments on sense

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