sen·​su·​al | \ ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)wəl How to pronounce sensual (audio) , -shəl \

Definition of sensual

1 : relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite : fleshly
3a : devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites
c : deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests : worldly especially : irreligious

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Other Words from sensual

sensuality \ ˌsen(t)-​shə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce sensual (audio) \ noun
sensually \ ˈsen(t)-​sh(ə-​)wə-​lē How to pronounce sensual (audio) , ˈsen-​shə-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for sensual

carnal, fleshly, sensual, animal mean having a relation to the body. carnal may mean only this but more often connotes derogatorily an action or manifestation of a person's lower nature. a slave to carnal desires fleshly is less derogatory than carnal. a saint who had experienced fleshly temptations sensual may apply to any gratification of a bodily desire or pleasure but commonly implies sexual appetite with absence of the spiritual or intellectual. fleshpots providing sensual delights animal stresses the physical as distinguished from the rational nature of a person. led a mindless animal existence

sensuous, sensual, luxurious, voluptuous mean relating to or providing pleasure through gratification of the senses. sensuous implies gratification of the senses for the sake of aesthetic pleasure. the sensuous delights of great music sensual tends to imply the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of the physical appetites as ends in themselves. a life devoted to sensual pleasures luxurious suggests the indulgence of sensuous pleasure inducing bodily ease and languor. a luxurious hotel voluptuous implies more strongly an abandonment especially to sensual pleasure. a voluptuous feast

Examples of sensual in a Sentence

A sharp observer with a pleasing eye for sensual detail, Jaffrey weaves a richly textured story in which she effortlessly mingles quotidian dramas with historic events including the partition of India. — Michelle Green, People, 6 Nov. 2006 And Rousseau, in his Confessions, wrote of the sensual pleasure he found in simple meals of peasant cheeses and breads. — Andrea Lee, Gourmet, May 2004 Certain fragrances apparently heighten sensual experiences. the sensual feel of a velvet shirt against the skin
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Recent Examples on the Web From Daya's sensual new single to Julien Baker's stunning lead-in to her new album, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "First Out: New Music From Daya, Julien Baker, Victoria Monét & More," 5 Feb. 2021 In Paris, the hole in its heart is the absence of the sensual conviviality that makes people dream. New York Times, "Paris, Shuttered, Must Be Imagined," 30 Jan. 2021 That’s why their sensual, fun designs are made for everyday wear. Find unique silhouettes like one-shoulder bras, and unexpected finishes like playful eyelets in Suzy Black NYC’s collections. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, "9 Black-Owned Lingerie Brands on Our Radar This Year," 26 Jan. 2021 But, as with Roxane Gay’s similarly sensual contribution, the story’s real drama is psychological. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "“Kink” Confronts the Challenge of Turning Sex Into Literature," 23 Jan. 2021 Although attars fell out of fashion in the 20th century, Kannauj perfumers continue to ply their craft the same old-fashioned way—recently awakening a new generation, at home and abroad, to its sensual, compelling fragrance. Travel, "This ancient town is the perfume capital of India," 4 Jan. 2021 The first season of the Netflix series became available to stream on Christmas Day and offers plenty of drama and sensual romance to keep you distracted throughout the entire evening. Kelly Schremph,, "What To Watch On This Abnormal New Year’s Eve, From The Ball Drop To Steamy Historical Fiction," 31 Dec. 2020 The same can be said of his simple, sensual takes on the most all-American staples. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "How Eli Russell Linnetz Built the Ultimate Californian Brand," 12 Nov. 2020 The first Mughal ruler, Barbur, celebrated the inextricable link between fragrance and spiritual and sensual contentment, and this ethos percolated in the halls of Mughal courts for the next two centuries. Travel, "This ancient town is the perfume capital of India," 4 Jan. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sensual

Middle English, from Late Latin sensualis, from Latin sensus sense

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Time Traveler for sensual

Time Traveler

The first known use of sensual was in the 15th century

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Statistics for sensual

Last Updated

12 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sensual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for sensual



English Language Learners Definition of sensual

: relating to, devoted to, or producing physical or sexual pleasure


sen·​su·​al | \ ˈsen-shə-wəl How to pronounce sensual (audio) \

Kids Definition of sensual

: relating to the pleasing of the senses


sen·​su·​al | \ ˈsench-(ə-)wəl, ˈsen-shəl How to pronounce sensual (audio) \

Medical Definition of sensual

2 : relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite
3 : devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites

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