sensor

noun
sen·​sor | \ˈsen-ˌsȯr, 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

Synonyms

detector

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Did You Know?

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

Skylights open via remote control, and automatically close if sensors detect precipitation. David Gleisner, Daily Southtown, "Rare glass house carved into hillside hits the market in Olympia Fields," 14 July 2018 Each nerve agent yields a slightly different color and brightness thanks to amazing fluorescence generating chemical sensors. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018 The airport is also considering technology to detect intruders, such as infrared motion detection or radar sensors that can trigger an alarm if someone climbs a fence. Kelly Yamanouchi, ajc, "Fence jumpers highlight security vulnerability at Hartsfield-Jackson," 12 July 2018 The robot grinds the meat, forms the patties, griddles them (a process tracked by 11 thermal sensors), chops tomatoes and grates cheese for those who want such accoutrements, slices, toasts and butters the bun, and dispenses seasoning and sauces. The Economist, "The rise of the robochef," 12 July 2018 Frozen in place are more than 5,000 basketball-size optical sensors designed to catch a trace of a passing neutrino on the rare occasion one of them interacts with the ice. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Scientists Track Neutrinos Through Ice to Their Source in the Cosmos," 12 July 2018 Motion sensors can’t tell the difference between your pet or a burglar. Diane Cowen, San Antonio Express-News, "Home security is more affordable — and better —than ever," 12 July 2018 Composed of more than 5,000 sensors embedded in a cubic kilometer of ice sitting deep beneath the Antarctic surface, IceCube picks up the flashes of blue light caused by secondary particles after a neutrino makes contact. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "After years of searching, scientists finally trace high-energy neutrinos to a distant blazar," 12 July 2018 But emissions components — including catalytic converters and oxygen sensors — are all warranted for eight years or 80,000 miles. Ray Magliozzi, courant.com, "Car Talk: It's Safe To Use Seat Heaters If Stranded In Snow," 11 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

30 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sensor

The first known use of sensor was circa 1928

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More Definitions for sensor

sensor

noun

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

sensor

noun
sen·​sor | \ˈsen-ˌsȯ(ə)r, ˈsen(t)-sər \

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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