\ 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)


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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for sense

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for sense


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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s no sense to be made out of any of it, and there’s certainly no culture or honor to be found. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "There’s Nothing More American Than Native Mascots," 29 Jan. 2020 Primarily, to educate us all to a realizing sense of our own strength and possible influence. Peter Hartlaub,, "Market Street is car-free: A salute to the people who started this fight," 29 Jan. 2020 On a spreadsheet, the Honda e's size, price, and range don’t make sense for the U.S. market. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Why the Honda e Should (but Won't) Come to the U.S.," 28 Jan. 2020 But Chaeryeong is the standout, thanks to her expressive face and wry sense of humor. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Houston gets to know K-pop girl group Itzy," 23 Jan. 2020 But because jars are heavy and breakable, shipping them doesn’t make much sense for smaller companies like Lance’s. Ac Shilton, Outside Online, "Why Aren't More Backcountry Foods Packaged Sustainably?," 21 Jan. 2020 So if your workplace doesn't have a strong system in place for helping those with mental health concerns, communicate to those above you that getting this done makes sense for the bottom line. Meghan Rabbitt, Woman's Day, "How to Address Mental Health In the Workplace," 21 Jan. 2020 This makes perfect sense, given that solving problems will get easier and easier as technology gets smarter. Ravi Kumar, Quartz at Work, "How can we create a workforce full of lifelong learners?," 20 Jan. 2020 This psychic entropy is not just compactness but also organization, hitherto unseen connections, and the sense of things fitting together without loose ends. Quanta Magazine, "Solution: ‘Natural Law and Elegant Math’," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As Kansas City started its fourth quarter comeback against the 49ers, the Chiefs quarterback could sense the game turning their way. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Mic'd-up video shows what Patrick Mahomes told Chiefs bench before go-ahead touchdown," 5 Feb. 2020 But as more amplifications occur, the glow rapidly rises until there's so much DNA that sensing the difference between cycles becomes impossible. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "How do we test for coronavirus, anyway?," 3 Feb. 2020 The measurements were made in January after the scientists deployed an ocean-sensing device to examine the waters moving below the glacier's surface. Fox News, "Antarctica’s ‘doomsday glacier’ reveals alarming new trait to scientists," 31 Jan. 2020 That’s why Planet, a leading remote-sensing satellite operator, is choosing to retire five of its satellites early this year. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Space companies are scrambling to solve the problem of defunct satellites," 31 Jan. 2020 The luxury-adjacent Mazda CX-5 can be had in its mid-tier Touring trim with all-wheel drive, leatherette seating, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an engine with an even number of cylinders for less than $30,000. Annie White, Car and Driver, "Ford's New Escape Leaves a Bitter Aftertaste," 27 Jan. 2020 If your practice is more practical, look for Muse headbands at resorts such as Spa Pendry in San Diego—the sleek devices use brain-sensing tech to provide real-time feedback on brain activity to help guide you into a consistent practice. Kate Wertheimer, Sunset Magazine, "The Ten Wellness Trends to Tune Into in 2020," 23 Jan. 2020 Bees could sense these different amounts of stretching, and use them as a directional signal to move upwards and make the swarm spread. Orit Peleg, The Conversation, "What a bundle of buzzing bees can teach engineers about robotic materials," 22 Jan. 2020 At the denomination's annual convention in 2016, Martin said, everyone could sense fissures over the subject of sexuality. Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY, "'Sometimes, divorce is necessary.' Fight for LGBTQ inclusion may finally split United Methodists," 22 Nov. 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.

See More

First Known Use of sense


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sense

Time Traveler for sense

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sense

Last Updated

1 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sense


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



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)


\ 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


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.


\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Encyclopedia article about sense

Comments on sense

What made you want to look up sense? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!