sen·​su·​ous ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)wəs How to pronounce sensuous (audio)
: of or relating to the senses or sensible objects
: producing or characterized by gratification of the senses : having strong sensory appeal
sensuous pleasure
: characterized by sense impressions or imagery aimed at the senses
sensuous verse
: highly susceptible to influence through the senses
sensuously adverb
sensuousness noun

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.

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

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 Fernando Botero, a Colombian artist who developed a signature style painting rotund, inflated yet sensuous figures with a whimsical or satirical edge, and who branched into monumental sculptures that adorned some of the world’s most famous boulevards, died Sept. 15 at a hospital in Monaco. Tim Johnson, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2023 Superstar rapper Travis Scott appears in the supporting part of Zion, a fellow traveler in this twisted, hallucinatory world of violence and sensuous madness. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Sep. 2023 Bea lingered in the Henry Moore gallery for a bit, his heroic bronzes splayed out, those solid, sensuous women. Hazlitt, 30 Aug. 2023 At the same party, Bieber turned heads in a sensuous white floor-length dress with a bodycon silhouette and a halter neck, designed by Colombian brand Maygel Coronel, which featured ruching details on the front and a daring thigh-high slit. Alex Kessler, Vogue, 4 July 2023 After that sensuous prologue, the story whisks us across the Atlantic, where Mike uneasily embraces a new London calling as Maxandra’s houseguest and trial employee. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2023 The most she’s ever paid for a cocktail is $50 for a dirty martini at the sensuous Chapel Bar in New York, where details such as the server’s explanation of the vodka, the specific olives and a crystal glass turned the splurge into a memory. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2023 Take pleasure in the sensuous citrus and chocolate mint flavors that were painstakingly created using only natural ingredients. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 5 Aug. 2023 Everything—the figure’s hair, her skin, the curtain, the velvety golden furniture behind her, and, of course, her breasts—looks soft, sensuous. Ariel Levy, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sensuous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin sensus sense + English -ous

First Known Use

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of sensuous was in 1640

Dictionary Entries Near sensuous

Cite this Entry

“Sensuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


sen·​su·​ous ˈsench-(ə-)wəs How to pronounce sensuous (audio)
: having to do with the senses or with things perceived by the senses
: producing an agreeable effect on the senses
mild sensuous breezes
: able to be easily influenced through the senses
sensuously adverb
sensuousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sensuous

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