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

Max Kelly: But News Feed made perfect sense to all of us, internally. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days," 10 July 2018 Their numbers made sense to them, but not to anyone else. Mary Williams Walsh, BostonGlobe.com, "Jeremy Gold, 75, actuary who warned of pension crisis," 14 July 2018 While Clark Palmer was trying to make sense of the murder scene, investigators were taking a second look at all the evidence. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Was alleged rape and shooting death investigation influenced by reality TV cameras?," 30 June 2018 There’s a sense of urgency permeating the Orlando Pride locker room after three losses in four matches. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride have sense of urgency going into match against Utah Royals," 13 July 2018 That makes sense because Yum already has naming rights to the Yum Center downtown, where the U of L men's and women's basketball teams play. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Pizza Hut, Kroger, Republic Bank? Who wants Cardinal Stadium naming rights," 13 July 2018 After trading Jerian Grant to the Magic last week, there’s a strong sense around the Bulls that they’re not done making moves this offseason. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Fellow Duke big man Harry Giles praises Bulls' Wendell Carter Jr.," 12 July 2018 There’s a sense of utter isolation that few of us have the chance to experience in the all-too-connected 21st century. Carey Jones, Vogue, "On a Remote Glacier in the Middle of Alaska, I Learned the Magic of Disconnecting," 12 July 2018 One of those home runs was hit by Rockies starter German Marquez, and, well, nothing about this paragraph makes sense. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Rockies pitcher hits home run off Arizona position player who was pitching," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This new protein family is even found in bacteria and other microorganisms that were never known to sense light until now. Shandria Sutton, Science | AAAS, "New ‘light-eating’ protein discovered in the Sea of Galilee," 5 July 2018 At the same time, oil companies seem to be sensing that the public supports stricter controls on carbon emissions and that the current political environment of weakening climate policy won’t last forever. Umair Irfan, Vox, "San Francisco and Oakland sued oil companies for causing climate change. A judge dismissed the cases.," 26 June 2018 On the night the ship hit the iceberg, Daniels, sensing something was wrong, went out by herself to investigate, according to the Encyclopedia Titanica. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "She wrote 'I wish you were here.' Now her postcard from the Titanic is up for auction," 19 June 2018 If a bike's GPS senses it is being locked outside an authorized area, the app will warn the user. Mark Harris, WIRED, "The Bike Share War Is Shaking Up Seattle Like Nowhere Else," 14 June 2018 The Tigers were retreating into to an ever-thinner slice of the homeland in northern Sri Lanka, sensing the game may be over. Longreads, "A Chance to Rewrite History: The Women Fighters of the Tamil Tigers," 22 May 2018 As Boban converted the winning spot-kick in the final against West Germany, one sensed that this was a group of players who could stick around for years to come. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 5 Weeks to Go Croatia Win Bronze Thanks to Their Golden Boy Davor Šuker," 19 May 2018 Teddy is close to his brother and sensed the coach was serious. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "IU track keeping it in the family: A coach and his stepsons," 10 May 2018 Perhaps sensing trouble ahead of the primaries, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California have called instead for the agency to be restructured. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "Dems who drafted bill to abolish ICE now say they'll vote against it," 12 July 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

13 Sep 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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