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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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

But her own experience with boudoir photography and her mom's sense of humor quickly spun the idea into something unexpected. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "This Grandma Posed for a Sexy Photo Shoot in a Bathtub Full of Knitting Supplies," 11 Jan. 2019 No sense diving into the deep end if the deep end turns out to be a mirage. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "An Epic defection? The Division 2 won't release on Steam," 9 Jan. 2019 PRoD's most compelling impact is in showing us exactly what could play out, for fans and creators alike, if the online economy falls headlong into a complicated tangle of content, money, popularity, and sense of inclusion. Sam Machkovech And Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Films for the discerning nerd: Ars picks the best of 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 On that night, this sense of connection was one of its sweetest. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 But architect John Toya, who lives off Alamo Square, brought his personality and a sense of whimsy to his apartment, filling it with mementos from his travels and reclaimed industrial cast-offs. Asad Syrkett, Curbed, "Year in Curbed: The best of House Calls," 26 Dec. 2018 Albanese pulled together an eclectic mix of vintage and custom furniture with layered textures and materials, imparting a sense of sophisticated youthfulness that is equally kid-appropriate and a playful backdrop for adults. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "A Vivacious Canadian Lake House With a Joyful Sense of Irreverence," 24 Dec. 2018 Not only do viewers tune in for his character’s sense of humor and adorable relationship with Kensi (Daniela Ruah), but loyal supporters also can’t deny Eric’s good looks and charm. Megan Stein, Country Living, "‘NCIS: LA’ Star Eric Christian Olsen Responds to Online Criticism," 23 Dec. 2018 That near-mythical place where idealists, romantics, and wanderers wash up, drifting in and dropping out, a sense of it glimpsed in Palermo, Antananarivo, Brazzaville. Horatio Clare, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why You Should Go to Belize Now," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The consequences for a stock like Caterpillar are just a lot more severe than most when investors sense that tipping point. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Why Caterpillar Rolled Over," 23 Oct. 2018 With two days of game drives already behind us, the five of us now understood when OB sensed something. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Your First Safari Should Be in Botswana," 25 Apr. 2018 Change came swiftly and dramatically on that night in Calgary, when anyone on either bench or among the near sellout crowd of 19,001 could sense that a seismic shift had taken place in the NHL. Keith Gave, Detroit Free Press, "The Russian Five is born: How iconic Red Wings changed hockey forever," 6 Apr. 2018 Since then, these distance-sensing systems have only gotten smarter and more convenient. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "10 Innovations That Made the Modern Car," 4 Dec. 2018 Tear gas is characterized as a chemical warfare agent, according to the Geneva Convention; these are gases that specifically activate pain-sensing nerves, according to National Geographic. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Border Patrol Agents Used Tear Gas to Disperse Hundreds of People in the Migrant Caravan," 26 Nov. 2018 The report also suggests that Apple might introduce another range-sensing system with a Time of Flight 3D camera in its 2019 or 2020 iPads (potentially with the 2020 iPhones. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Apple’s 2019 iPhones may feature an upgraded Face ID camera," 4 Nov. 2018 After 9/11, though, Michael sensed emotional burnout surrounding him at his lower Manhattan workplace, while security measures lengthened his commute from Queens and devoured his time with the children. Jennifer Peltz, Fox News, "'Wake-up call': 9/11 prompted some to move away to new lives," 10 Sep. 2018 Key to this vision is controlling how cells sense and respond to their environments, says Christopher Voigt, a bioengineer at MIT and co-founder of Asimov, a biotech startup that Nielsen leads. Eric Smalley, Discover Magazine, "Cellular Cyborgs: How Programmable DNA Strands Might Control Healing," 25 Sep. 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 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

18 Jan 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 \

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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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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