sentence

noun
sen·​tence | \ ˈsen-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce sentence (audio) , -tᵊnz\

Definition of sentence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 obsolete : opinion especially : a conclusion given on request or reached after deliberation
2a : judgment sense 4a specifically : one formally pronounced by a court or judge in a criminal proceeding and specifying the punishment to be inflicted upon the convict
b : the punishment so imposed serve out a sentence
3 archaic : maxim, saw
4a : a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit which expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action, that in writing usually begins with a capital letter and concludes with appropriate end punctuation, and that in speaking is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses
b : a mathematical or logical statement (such as an equation or a proposition) in words or symbols

sentence

verb
sentenced; sentencing

Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to impose a sentence on
2 : to cause to suffer something sentenced these most primitive cultures to extinction— E. W. Count

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for sentence

Synonyms: Noun

doom, finding, holding, judgment (or judgement), ruling

Synonyms: Verb

condemn, damn, doom

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of sentence in a Sentence

Noun

He is serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery.

Verb

The defendant was sentenced and fined. the judge sentenced him to a fine of $50 and time served
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fans took the end of the sentence literally and wondered whether a baby was on the way for the pair. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Justin Bieber Just Tricked Us Into Thinking Hailey Baldwin Is Pregnant," 1 Apr. 2019 State and local officials can provide details of convictions and sentences, but don’t know whether a suspect could be deported. Colleen Long, The Seattle Times, "Trump immigrant crime hotline still faces hurdles, pushback," 5 Feb. 2019 On Friday, the Yangon region high court rejected the journalists’ appeal and reaffirmed the convictions and sentences levied by the lower court. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Myanmar Appeals Court Upholds Prison Terms for Journalists," 11 Jan. 2019 In October 2013, Murray was released from jail two years into a four-year sentence after his 2011 conviction. EW.com, "Michael Jackson was 'chemically castrated' by his late dad, says singer's ex doctor," 12 July 2018 Singer flipped on the parents and helped the FBI build the case against for a chance at a lenient sentence. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Seattle Times, "Test taker pleads guilty in college admissions bribery scam," 13 Apr. 2019 Shortly after the Oval Office meeting, the president commuted Johnson's sentence. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "John F. Kennedy’s Grandson Reportedly Has a Crush on Kendall Jenner," 11 Apr. 2019 That 35-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, and she was released in January 2017. Marci Robin, Allure, "How to Support Incarcerated Trans People, Including Chelsea Manning," 31 Mar. 2019 Alice Marie Johnson is a great-grandmother who was previously incarcerated with a lifetime sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offense. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Offers to Pay Five Years of Rent for a Former Inmate Yet He Was Denied a Home," 18 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 1992, Italian courts sentenced a 45-year-old man to jail for the rape of an 18-year-old girl. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Everything You Need to Know about Denim Day," 24 Apr. 2019 He was sentenced for that crime just a month ago, on February 5, receiving a sentence of six months behind bars, but was released for time served prior to the sentencing—and apparently got right back to it. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "Taylor Swift's Manhattan Townhouse Has Been Broken Into—Again," 7 Mar. 2019 In 2002, he was sentenced to death and is currently on death row at San Quentin Penitentiary in California. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "The True Story Behind Cary Stayner's Murders and His Brother Steven's Legacy," 25 Jan. 2019 For this crime, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail — and ended up serving eight years before being released. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "Everything you need to know about Google’s controversial China plans in advance of today’s congressional hearing," 11 Dec. 2018 After hearing over 150 statements ranging two decades, Judge Aquilina sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison. Glamour, "The Women Who Took Down Larry Nassar on Life After the Ruling," 11 Nov. 2018 Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby had meatballs and rice, along with mashed potatoes and green beans as part of his first meal in a state prison after being sentenced three to 10 years on Tuesday, Fox News has learned. Fox News, "Bill Cosby’s first prison meal revealed," 28 Sep. 2018 Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks to five years in prison for taking money from an undercover FBI informant and agreeing to help him defraud a federal housing agency. Nicholas Bogel-burroughs, baltimoresun.com, "Prosecutors ask judge to sentence former Maryland Sen. Nathaniel Oaks to 5 years in prison," 12 July 2018 This month he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined more than $9 million. Abdul Salam, USA TODAY, "A cricket star is the front-runner to become Pakistan's next prime minister," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sentence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sentence

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sentence

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin sententia feeling, opinion, from *sentent-, *sentens, irregular present participle of sentire to feel — more at sense

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sentence

Statistics for sentence

Last Updated

18 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sentence

The first known use of sentence was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sentence

sentence

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sentence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a group of words that expresses a statement, question, command, or wish
law : the punishment given by a court of law

sentence

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

law : to officially state the punishment given to (someone) by a court of law

sentence

noun
sen·​tence | \ ˈsen-tᵊns How to pronounce sentence (audio) \

Kids Definition of sentence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a group of words that makes a statement, asks a question, or expresses a command, wish, or exclamation
2 : punishment set by a court He served a sentence for robbery.
3 : a mathematical statement (as an equation) in words or symbols

sentence

verb
sentenced; sentencing

Kids Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to set the punishment of The judge sentenced the prisoner.

sentence

noun
sen·​tence | \ ˈsent-ᵊns, -ᵊnz How to pronounce sentence (audio) \

Legal Definition of sentence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a judgment formally pronouncing the punishment to be inflicted on one convicted of a crime
2 : the punishment that one convicted of a crime is ordered to receive
concurrent sentence
: a sentence that runs at the same time as another
consecutive sentence
: a sentence that runs before or after another
cumulative sentence
: consecutive sentence in this entry also : the combination of two or more consecutive sentences
death sentence
: a sentence condemning the convicted defendant to death
determinate sentence \ di-​ˈtər-​mə-​nət-​ \
: a sentence for a fixed rather than indeterminate length of time
general sentence
: a sentence that does not allocate the punishment imposed for the individual counts on which the defendant was convicted

Note: General sentences are impermissible.

indeterminate sentence \ ˌin-​di-​ˈtər-​mə-​nət-​ \
: a sentence of minimum and maximum duration with the exact length to be later determined (as by a parole board)
life sentence
: a sentence of imprisonment for the rest of the convicted defendant's life
mandatory sentence
: a sentence that is specifically required or falls within a range required by statute as punishment for an offense imposed the minimum mandatory sentence for distributing drugs near a school
presumptive sentence
: a sentence that is the presumed punishment for an offense and is subject to the upward or downward adjustment of its severity depending on aggravating and mitigating factors
split sentence
: a sentence of which part is served in prison and the other suspended and usually replaced by probation
suspended sentence
: a sentence the imposition or execution of which is suspended by the court

sentence

transitive verb
sentenced; sentencing

Legal Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to impose a sentence on

History and Etymology for sentence

Noun

Old French, opinion, judicial sentence, from Latin sententia, ultimately from sentire to feel, think, express an opinion

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sentence

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

WORD OF THE DAY

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!