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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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

They are equipped with mechanical arms, cameras, microphones, air quality sensors, and can zip around autonomously or by remote control, taking inventory, videotaping experiments, replacing malfunctioning equipment or working together to move cargo. Peter Fimrite,, "Planned trips to moon could usher in space-based commerce," 8 June 2019 That has included blanketing the small southeast L.A. County city of Paramount with air quality sensors to pinpoint chromium-6 emissions from metalworking plants operating near homes and schools. Tony Barboza,, "Southern California’s most toxic polluters will pay more under air board’s fee hike," 7 June 2019 In a visit to Israel, Little saw progress with sensors that were able to minimize water system leaks and, ultimately, water waste. Julia Thompson, USA TODAY, "Lab-grown meat, GMOs, high-tech ag: 'Fate of Food' explores solutions to global food crisis," 6 June 2019 What the company does: Manufactures sensors for measurement of level, point level, pressure as well as equipment and software. The Enquirer,, "Top Workplaces Cincinnati: 'Best in show' for 2019," 5 June 2019 The Sound Remote requires the same $30 Ikea Trådfri gateway that links together Ikea’s inexpensive smart home products like blind controllers, lights, sockets, sensors, dimmers, and switches. Thomas Ricker, The Verge, "Sonos speakers are getting a cheap Ikea wireless controller," 5 June 2019 According to public works director John Anderson, the village has 10 deployable sensors, which showed a possible water main leak near the intersection of Keystone Avenue and Iowa Street. Steve Schering,, "Amid difficult repair, River Forest officials tout use of leak detection sensors," 3 June 2019 The sub-$100 smartphone space may be filled with outdated and underpowered Android phones, but most of them have at least one reason to buy them—an aluminum frame, big battery, fingerprint sensor, something. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "RCA's 100th anniversary Android phone is the Victrola of 2019 smartphones," 10 May 2019 Equipped with sensors, horizontal drilling runs parallel to formations containing oil and natural gas, an advancement that is often three to five times more productive than traditional vertical drilling. Rob Nikolewski,, "California's ranking as an oil-producing state is slipping," 12 July 2018

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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Statistics for sensor

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for sensor

The first known use of sensor was circa 1928

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on sensor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sensor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sensor

Spanish Central: Translation of sensor

Nglish: Translation of sensor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sensor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sensor

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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