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


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

doom, 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

Janiak was set to start serving her sentence on June 11, but failed to show, prompting the warrants for her arrest. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Missing Oregon 2-Year-Old Found Dead in Montana," 2 Aug. 2019 Janiak was to start serving her sentence at the Jackson County Jail on June 11, the FBI said. NBC News, "Sheriff confirms body found in Montana is missing Oregon 2-year-old," 2 Aug. 2019 Prosecutors asked that the 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, get a six-month sentence during closing arguments Friday. Jari Tanner, Fortune, "Rapper A$AP Rocky To Be Freed From Jail in Sweden While Judges Mull Case," 2 Aug. 2019 The models broke up the summaries by sentence and used something called sentiment analysis to analyze each one. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Artificial intelligence predicts which movies will succeed—and fail—simply from plot summaries," 2 Aug. 2019 Mr Leung’s long sentence was meant to be a deterrent. The Economist, "The voice of Hong Kong’s revolution speaks," 30 July 2019 Trump has now pardoned 12 people during his time in office and has commuted two prison sentences. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Trump pardons Kentucky man who helped steal 20 firearms for having ‘exceptional character’," 29 July 2019 Those sentences were later commuted to life in prison after the death penalty was abolished in California in 1972. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The Real Sharon Tate Was So Much More Than Her Tragic Death," 28 July 2019 As Tracie Hunter is taken to serve her 6-month sentence, a woman jumped the railing and was taken into custody. Mark Curnutte,, "Tracie Hunter says being dragged from courtroom left her 'in great pain'," 23 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Despite the lack of any DNA evidence, Banks faced the risk of being sentenced to 41 years to life in prison, and his lawyer advised him to take a plea deal. Nigel Smith,, "The True Story Behind Brian Banks: From 5 Years in Prison as an Innocent Man to Playing in NFL," 8 Aug. 2019 Avery's mother, Deanna Hose, pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment and was sentenced to five years in prison., "These 7 Kentucky children were abused so badly that a panel deemed the cases torture," 8 Aug. 2019 In 2017, Ralph Flynn was sentenced to 24 years in prison; Carolyn Flynn received a 12-year sentence. Pete Grieve,, "San Jose man serially abused by adoptive parents gets $28 million judgment," 8 Aug. 2019 Richardson can confirm, vacate or alter the sentenced imposed by a San Diego military jury in July. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ex-attorney for Navy SEAL acquitted of war crimes says Gallagher owes him up to $1 million," 7 Aug. 2019 During the Manson trials, all three women were visibly and vocally remorseless, and all three were sentenced to death in 1971; these sentences were commuted to life in 1972. Aja Romano, Vox, "The Manson Family murders weren’t a countercultural revolt. They were about power, entitlement, and Hollywood.," 7 Aug. 2019 The former assistant coach was charged, and later pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the bribery scheme, which included direct payments to Wiley, Purifoy and their families. Sam Blum |, al, "Auburn basketball had severe self-imposed sanctions from 2017 it never made public," 7 Aug. 2019 Lynn sentenced Caraway in April to 56 months in prison for accepting about $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks between 2011 and 2017. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Ex-Dallas County Schools superintendent who had 'perfect life' gets 7-year sentence for taking bribes," 7 Aug. 2019 He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and sentenced to three years of probation and community service. Ting-chia Kan,, "Wisconsin man — who arrived in U.S. in ’81 as Cambodian refugee — is deported for marijuana offenses, leaving behind his wife and new baby," 7 Aug. 2019

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

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Statistics for sentence

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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


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 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


transitive verb
sentenced; sentencing

Legal Definition of sentence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to impose a sentence on

History and Etymology for sentence


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

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