sentence

1 of 2

noun

sen·​tence ˈsen-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce sentence (audio)
-tᵊnz
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
4
archaic : maxim, saw
5
obsolete : opinion
especially : a conclusion given on request or reached after deliberation

sentence

2 of 2

verb

sentenced; sentencing

transitive verb

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Regardless of the punishment, experts broadly agreed that Trump's sentence will most likely be stayed pending his appeal -- a process that could take anywhere from months to a year -- meaning the former president would likely avoid serving any part of a sentence until after the 2024 election. Peter Charalambous, ABC News, 13 June 2024 That the prose doesn’t soar is the point: thick with explication, the sentences are sandbags, loaded onto the page to drive home the cumulative weight of work. The New Yorker, 12 June 2024
Verb
Shyne was convicted of two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, and gun possession, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Hilda Dzietror, ABC News, 12 June 2024 The killer in the Parkland case, Nikolas Cruz, 19 at the time of the murders, was sentenced to life without parole but the jury deadlocked on imposing the death penalty. Kayla Jimenez, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for sentence 

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near sentence

Cite this Entry

“Sentence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sentence. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

sentence

1 of 2 noun
sen·​tence ˈsent-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce sentence (audio)
-ᵊnz
1
a
: judgment sense 2
especially : one pronounced by a court in a criminal proceeding and specifying the punishment
b
: the punishment set by a court
2
a
: a grammatically self-contained group of words that expresses a statement, a question, a command, a wish, or an exclamation
b
: a mathematical or logical statement (as an equation) in words or symbols
sentential
sen-ˈten-chəl
adjective

sentence

2 of 2 verb
sentenced; sentencing
1
: to impose a judgment on
sentenced them to prison
2
: to cause to suffer something

Legal Definition

sentence

1 of 2 noun
sen·​tence ˈsent-ᵊns, -ᵊnz How to pronounce sentence (audio)
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

2 of 2 transitive verb
sentenced; sentencing
: to impose a sentence on
Etymology

Noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sentence

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