sen·​su·​ous | \ ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)wəs How to pronounce sensuous (audio) \

Definition of sensuous

1a : of or relating to the senses or sensible objects
b : producing or characterized by gratification of the senses : having strong sensory appeal sensuous pleasure
2 : characterized by sense impressions or imagery aimed at the senses sensuous verse
3 : highly susceptible to influence through the senses

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Other Words from sensuous

sensuosity \ ˌsen(t)-​shə-​ˈwä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce sensuosity (audio) \ noun
sensuously \ ˈsen(t)-​shə-​wəs-​lē How to pronounce sensuously (audio) \ adverb
sensuousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sensuous

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

Did You Know?

Sensuous and sensual are close in meaning but not identical, and sensuous was actually coined by the poet John Milton so that he wouldn't have to use sensual. Sensuous usually implies pleasing of the senses by art or similar means; great music, for example, can be a source of sensuous delight. Sensual, on the other hand, usually describes gratification of the senses or physical appetites as an end in itself; thus we often think (perhaps unfairly) of wealthy Romans leading lives devoted to sensual pleasure. You can see why the Puritan Milton might have wanted another word.

Examples of sensuous in a Sentence

The sensuous sounds of soul music created a warm atmosphere. A gentle, sensuous breeze caressed our faces.
Recent Examples on the Web These include someone washing a cucumber, copulating wind-up toy rabbits, a phallic fungus, a beaver, the Washington Monument, the pop of a champagne cork, and the sensuous blossoming of a flower. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The 2010s were a veritable golden age of opening credits in television," 30 Dec. 2019 Brown got her hips working on a sensuous rumba in round one. Hal Boedeker,, "‘Dancing With the Stars’ delivers emotional semifinals, surprising elimination," 18 Nov. 2019 In the words that the poem isolates, calling forth their singular entities and phenomena, the world becomes at once familiar and alien to us, at once sensuous and abstract, comprehensible and incomprehensible at the same time. Karl Ove Knausgaard, The New Yorker, "The Slowness of Literature and the Shadow of Knowledge," 6 Nov. 2019 Human beings are beguiled by the mysterious aloofness of cats; their prowess as hunters; their sensuous, sculpted bodies; their elegant, acrobatic grace and agility; their kittenish curiosity and mischief; and their regal dignity. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Our beloved pets leave paw prints on our hearts," 21 Sep. 2019 As workers in the cigar factory sang and pounded tables, so did our hearts, and in terms of ballet decorum, the sensuous bedroom scene with Carmen and Don Jose pushed the envelope all the way to the edge. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Ballet leaps over expectations with unconventional new ‘Carmen’," 21 Oct. 2019 This was a first movement that offered considerable rhetorical heat in some passages, exquisitely sensuous sound in others. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Riccardo Muti opens his 10th season with vivid Shostakovich," 20 Sep. 2019 Her alone time was well spent: The result is contemplation at its most sensuous and exhilarating. Catherine Lowe, Billboard, "Jenny Hval & Jane Siberry In Conversation: Poetry, Religion & Music Biz Frustrations," 11 Sep. 2019 The gunsmoke curling from the muzzle of her cowboy’s weapon is almost wickedly sensuous. Steven Litt,, "Gun rights explored in provocative ‘Well Armed Militias’ exhibit at Spaces," 15 Sep. 2019

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

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sensuous

Latin sensus sense + English -ous

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Time Traveler for sensuous

Time Traveler

The first known use of sensuous was in 1640

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Statistics for sensuous

Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sensuous.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sensuous


How to pronounce sensuous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sensuous

: affecting the senses in a pleasing way : pleasant, attractive, or appealing in a way that produces or suggests feelings of physical or sexual pleasure

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Comments on sensuous

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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