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 pluralfinally 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

Synonyms: Verb

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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 The psychologists tested subjects on various qualities — sense of humour, logic and grammar — and found that those who rated in the lowest quadrants tended to rank themselves as far above average. Jennifer Wright, refinery29.com, "America Has Always Been A Nation Of Conspiracy Theories — But It’s Worse Than Ever," 29 June 2020 Safety measures at the museum include requiring visitors over the age of 10 to wear masks and placing interactive displays that rely on the sense of touch off-limits. Deborah Martin, ExpressNews.com, "Witte Museum closes, DoSeum shifts reopening plans following coronavirus emergency alert in San Antonio," 29 June 2020 Her experience, recounted in a recent interview, captures how even a mild case of covid-19 can still be a harrowing ordeal — and how the myriad unknowns of the illness leave its victims without a clear sense of closure or control. Washington Post, "A hypervigilant mom followed every health guideline. She still caught the coronavirus.," 29 June 2020 Interviews with focus groups from March to May have pointed to a sharp sense of disillusionment both with the president personally and the government as a whole, according to Belanovsky. Ilya Arkhipov, Fortune, "With approval ratings at an all-time low, Putin is making moves to stay in power until he’s 83," 28 June 2020 Surely in a strict utilitarian sense these municipalities have more of a right to direct federal representation than North Dakota or Wyoming. Matthew Walther, TheWeek, "The case against D.C. statehood," 27 June 2020 Our virtual conversations with activists, organizers and luminaries revealed both a sense of loss and of opportunity. George Mccalman, SFChronicle.com, "The SF Pride that wasn’t: Organizers, luminaries see loss and opportunity," 26 June 2020 Common sense was supposedly enough to understand the world and make money. Mugambi Jouet, The New Republic, "The Trump Cult Is Loyal to an Ideology, Not the Man," 26 June 2020 That lack of unity undermines the sense of common purpose the EU would need to impose itself comprehensively on the world stage. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "Power shift: How America’s retreat is reshaping global affairs," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Listen carefully to the words and ideas expressed to sense whether a closer involvement is right for you. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 27 June 2020 Garland could finally sense his old form starting to return in January during a six-game road trip, which started with the infamous thugs/slugs controversy that almost got Beilein fired. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Darius Garland never felt like himself this season, wants to show he is ‘way better’ than rookie year," 25 June 2020 The video monitors and alarms are fully customizable, so people can detect when doors and windows open or even sense motion outside their homes, which helps to keep them safe. Liv Birdsall, USA TODAY, "20 things from Best Buy that make aging in place easier," 25 June 2020 Now, amid the chaos of 2020, people sense a need for change deeper than self-help career books could hope to offer. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "What Comes After the Girlboss?," 25 June 2020 To seize your joy (rather than being merely seized by it) is to sense that joy is no less transient than other things, which is all the more reason to lay claim to it—proactively, ravenously. Matthew Bevis, Harper's Magazine, "Faintly Risible, Obscurely Resonant," 23 June 2020 The former vice president’s supporters would like to blunt those charges and sense Bolton has given them some new ammunition. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Democrats wield Bolton book as shield against Trump 'Beijing Biden' attacks," 19 June 2020 If the Tesla system does not sense a hand on the steering wheel for a period of time, Autopilot will stop working. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford's electric Mustang will offer hands-free driving technology next year," 18 June 2020 Trammell can sense an internal drive in Torkelson, a player who wasn't drafted coming out of high school. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Why Tigers' Alan Trammell is sold on Spencer Torkelson: 'No ballpark's gonna hold Tork'," 11 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for sense

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sense

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sense. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for sense

sense

noun
How to pronounce sense (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sense

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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