sen·​sor | \ ˈsen-ˌsȯr How to pronounce sensor (audio) , ˈsen(t)-sər \

Definition of sensor

1 : a device that responds to a physical stimulus (such as heat, light, sound, pressure, magnetism, or a particular motion) and transmits a resulting impulse (as for measurement or operating a control)

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Synonyms for sensor


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Sensors are used today almost everywhere. Radar guns bounce microwaves off moving cars. A burglar alarm may use a photosensor to detect when a beam of light has been broken, or may use ultrasonic sound waves that bounce off moving objects. Still other sensors may detect pressure (barometers) or chemicals (Breathalyzers and smoke detectors). Stud finders, used by carpenters to locate wooden studs under a wall, may employ magnets or radar. Wired gloves, which relay information about the position of the fingers, are used in virtual-reality environments. A cheap car alarm may be nothing but a shock sensor, in which a strong vibration will cause two metal surfaces to come together.

Examples of sensor in a Sentence

Image sensors are used in digital cameras. Infrared sensors can track an object's movement.
Recent Examples on the Web The threat of such attacks poses a huge issue for Bosch, which develops vehicle components such as sensors and cameras for tasks including traffic-sign recognition. John Mccormick, WSJ, "Bosch Deploys AI to Prevent Attacks on Cars’ Electronic Systems," 6 Jan. 2020 Auto-industry supplier Continental has developed ultra-sensitive sensors for cars. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Continental's Sensor Knows If Someone's Trying to Vandalize Your Car," 6 Jan. 2020 The ships will act as scouts for other ships and multi-ship task forces, hosting sensors like radar and sonar that will extend the detection range of the fleet. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What's Better Than a Robot Warship? A 'Talking' Robot Warship," 1 Jan. 2020 Within the beads and black cross are sensors that can detect rotational motion, which can be paired with an app on a smartphone to track a variety of stats, both religious and secular. NBC News, "The Catholic rosary got a digital upgrade — but it's a mixed blessing," 31 Dec. 2019 Riddell has used a sensor system in some of its helmets for more than a decade. Tim Booth, The Denver Post, "Helmets go high tech in quest for NFL player safety," 29 Dec. 2019 Unfortunately, optical sensors require ambient light to operate. Adrienne So, Wired, "How to Get the Most Out of (or Into) Your Robot Vacuum," 28 Dec. 2019 The 194 stations look a bit like high-tech backyard sheds — huts with solar panels, batteries and seismic sensors that dip underground. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska could soon lose dozens of earthquake sensors if funding isn’t secured," 25 Dec. 2019 The two essential technologies speeding the IOT’s arrival, inexpensive sensors and super-fast networking kit, are advancing fast. The Economist, "The World in 2020 The Splinternet of Things threatens 5G’s potential," 25 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sensor.' 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 sensor

circa 1928, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sensor

Latin sentire to perceive + English -or entry 1 — more at sense

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Time Traveler for sensor

Time Traveler

The first known use of sensor was circa 1928

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Statistics for sensor

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sensor.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sensor


How to pronounce sensor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sensor

: a device that detects or senses heat, light, sound, motion, etc., and then reacts to it in a particular way


sen·​sor | \ ˈsen-ˌsȯ(ə)r How to pronounce sensor (audio) , ˈsen(t)-sər How to pronounce sensor (audio) \

Medical Definition of sensor

: a device that responds to a physical stimulus (as heat, light, sound, pressure, magnetism, or a particular motion) and transmits a resulting impulse (as for measurement or operating a control) also : sense organ

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Comments on sensor

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


to insert between existing elements

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