sentence

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

Definition of sentence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
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
4 archaic : maxim, saw
5 obsolete : opinion especially : a conclusion given on request or reached after deliberation

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

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Synonyms for sentence

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun What is your cryptic one-sentence tease for the third episode? Dan Snierson, EW.com, "This Is Us creator breaks down that gasp-inducing premiere twist," 28 Oct. 2020 None of the justices gave reasons Monday night, disposing of the case in a pair of two-sentence orders after weeks of internal deliberations. Greg Stohr, Bloomberg.com, "Supreme Court Split Stokes Democrats’ Election Worries," 20 Oct. 2020 The court said a one-sentence description to voters was inadequate. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "What are the 2 constitutional amendments on the 2020 Kentucky ballot?," 12 Oct. 2020 The second page of each spread is a full-color portrait illustrated by women artists from around the world, along with a one sentence quote. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Sandwich Hag’s Reyna Duong featured in newest edition of ‘Rebel Girls’ book series," 9 Oct. 2020 At least one criminal sentence has been vacated as a result of Rone falsifying work records. Esteban Parra, USA TODAY, "After another review, no charges in case where police fatally shot Black man in wheelchair," 25 Sep. 2020 The Vatican late on Thursday announced Becciu's resignation in a one-sentence statement. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Top Catholic cardinal resigns amid Vatican financial scandals," 25 Sep. 2020 The Vatican’s one-sentence statement provided no explanation for the apparent punishment of a cardinal — something that has happened only a few times over the past 100 years. Washington Post, "Pope Francis accepts resignation of cardinal connected to a financial scandal," 24 Sep. 2020 Only one of the Trump-Nixon letters was widely known about previously — a two-sentence December 1987 note that Nixon writes after his wife saw Trump on Phil Donahue's talk show. Nancy Benac, Star Tribune, "Dear Donald, Dear Mr. President: A Trump-Nixon '80s tale," 23 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The charges handed up Tuesday contain firearms specifications which means a judge could sentence them to additional time in prison if they’re convicted since guns were used in the course of the crimes in which they are accused. Olivia Mitchell, cleveland, "Grand jury indicts Cleveland men on murder charges in death of Euclid nurse, fashion model," 14 Oct. 2020 Arrest and then aggressively prosecute and sentence those who break the law. Anchorage Daily News, "Candidate Q&A: Alaska House District 24 — Tom McKay," 3 Oct. 2020 Defense attorney Jessica Phillips asked the judge to sentence McMahon to a year and a half in prison and give him credit for time served since his Sept. 18, 2019, arrest. CBS News, "Florida man who calls himself "Antifa hunter" gets more than 3 years in prison for racist threats," 1 Sep. 2020 Defense attorney Jessica Phillips asked the judge to sentence McMahon to a year and a half in prison and give him credit for time served since his Sept. 18, 2019, arrest. Michael Kunzelman, USA TODAY, "‘Antifa hunter’ gets 3 years for racist threats against Black political candidate, activist," 1 Sep. 2020 Prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence him to life in prison. Nicole Hong, New York Times, "Clare Bronfman, Facing Sentencing, Refuses to Disavow ‘Sex Cult’ Leader," 28 Sep. 2020 Defense attorney Jessica Phillips asked the judge to sentence McMahon to a year and a half in prison and give him credit for time served since his Sept. 18, 2019, arrest. CBS News, "Florida man who calls himself "Antifa hunter" gets more than 3 years in prison for racist threats," 1 Sep. 2020 Defense attorney Jessica Phillips asked the judge to sentence McMahon to a year and a half in prison and give him credit for time served since his Sept. 18, 2019, arrest. Michael Kunzelman, USA TODAY, "‘Antifa hunter’ gets 3 years for racist threats against Black political candidate, activist," 1 Sep. 2020 Defense attorney Jessica Phillips asked the judge to sentence McMahon to a year and a half in prison and give him credit for time served since his Sept. 18, 2019, arrest. orlandosentinel.com, "‘Antifa hunter’ in Florida gets 3 years for online racist threats," 31 Aug. 2020

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

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

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Time Traveler for sentence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sentence

Last Updated

30 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sentence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sentence. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for sentence

sentence

noun
How to pronounce sentence (audio)

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
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

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