sen·tence | \ˈsen-tᵊn(t)s, -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


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

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Synonyms for sentence

Synonyms: Noun

finding, holding, judgment (or judgement), ruling

Synonyms: Verb

condemn, damn, doom

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Examples of sentence in a Sentence


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


The defendant was sentenced and fined. the judge sentenced him to a fine of $50 and time served
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Most received sentences of time served and will be quickly remanded to immigration custody to be deported. Kristina Davis,, "Fast-track misdemeanor immigration court rolls out with confusion, tension," 9 July 2018 Airplanes and comfy seats rarely belong in the same sentence. CBS News, "Reclining airline seats: Brace for impact!," 8 July 2018 More Doc: The Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey are weirdly great right now No one in this dimension of time and space is putting Hamilton in the same run-producing sentence as Suarez, Votto and Gennett. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: Forget numbers when deciding Billy Hamilton's value to the Cincinnati Reds," 7 July 2018 Complete the sentence: Woke up like this: Disheveled, running late, doing too many things at once and underperforming all of them; but pretty thrilled about mediocrity! Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Every Photo Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel Have Shared of Son Silas," 6 July 2018 Danielle Kays is serving an 18-month sentence for conspiracy to defraud the United States and bribery. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "Man pleads guilty to fraud in connection with Aberdeen Proving Ground contracting scandal," 29 June 2018 For those who love to explore the world, a diagnosis of memory loss can be devastating—and interpreted as a sentence to stay home. Cassie Shortsleeve, Condé Nast Traveler, "What It’s Really Like to Travel With Alzheimer’s," 28 June 2018 Toward the end of his 39-page majority ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts repudiated Korematsu in a sentence acknowledging the magnitude of the high-court’s mistake. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Court Upholds Travel Ban, but Slams Infamous Case on Japanese Internment Camps," 26 June 2018 The habitual offender statue requires a sentence of no less than five years in prison and up to life in prison. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Driver pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter in death of Boise pedestrian," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Before his sentencing, Saucier and his attorney made a similar argument that was eventually disregarded by a judge who sentenced him for what was perceived as a lack of judgment rather than an attempt to thwart national security. Nicholas Rondinone,, "In Lawsuit Citing Clinton Email Probe, Groton Sailor Pardoned By Trump Seeks $20M In Damages," 13 July 2018 Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo ordered Nebergall to be held at the Palm Beach County Jail until he is sentenced Aug. 1. Marc Freeman,, "Deputy convicted of attempted rape," 13 July 2018 Bond served about half the six-years Salant sentenced him to, before collecting enough good-time credits to be released from prison last fall. Dan Morse, Washington Post, "Target of murder-for-hire plot tries to laugh away bargain-based price tag: ‘Insulting to be sure’," 13 July 2018 The New Times reports that Crenshaw's most recent conviction was in 2014, when he was sentenced to 180 days in jail for felony battery on a police officer. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "A man with no arms stabbed a tourist in Florida, police say," 11 July 2018 Robocop is returning at just the right time, and hopefully busting Blomkamp out of the director jail that too many audiences and critics have sentenced him to. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Robocop' and Neill Blomkamp Need Each Other," 11 July 2018 The judge agreed, and they were initially sentenced to three months for the elder Hammond and a year for his son. NBC News, "Trump pardons father-and-son ranchers who set fires on federal lands," 10 July 2018 But a federal appeals court ruled in 2015 that they had been improperly sentenced and ordered them to return to prison. Eileen Sullivan, New York Times, "Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Whose Case Inspired Wildlife Refuge Takeover," 10 July 2018 And growing into the kind of person who believed her story did not end on the 2010 day when she was sentenced to prison. Alison Bowen,, "From prison to pioneer: a chef's dream to transform one Chicago corner," 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.

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First Known Use of sentence


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sentence


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


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

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Statistics for sentence

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for sentence

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

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More Definitions for sentence



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



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

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


sen·tence | \ˈsen-tᵊns \

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


sentenced; sentencing

Kids Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

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


sen·tence | \ˈsent-ᵊns, -ᵊnz \

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


transitive verb
sentenced; sentencing

Legal Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to impose a sentence on

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Comments on sentence

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