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

If convicted on the drug trafficking charge, Pettit would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "Man arrested for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced drugs to rapper Mac Miller before his death," 4 Sep. 2019 The singer faces a maximum prison sentence of over 200 years, according to Reuters. Jordan Runtagh,, "R. Kelly Moved to Jail's General Population as Judge Sets Chicago Trial Start Date for April 27," 4 Sep. 2019 Dotson also faces a maximum sentence of more than 12 years in prison. Cory Shaffer,, "Strongsville woman found guilty of looting ailing Korean War vet’s bank account through phony marriage promise," 3 Sep. 2019 If found guilty, the Eastern District said in a press release, Chudhary faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "19-year-old Queens Man Arrested for Intending to Commit an Attack on Behalf of ISIS," 30 Aug. 2019 If convicted, Levandowski faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the 33 counts. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Ex-Uber Engineer Levandowski Charged With Trade-Secret Theft," 27 Aug. 2019 Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Rafael Olmeda,, "More people could be charged in Hollywood nursing home deaths, police say," 27 Aug. 2019 Joey Gibson, 35, was arraigned on one count of riot, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison., "Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson pleads not guilty to felony riot charge," 27 Aug. 2019 If convicted on all charges, Sebesta faced a statutory maximum sentence of more than 250 years in federal prison. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, "Former church chairman indicted in theft of $11.5 million in church money," 26 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That might be someone like Hisayoshi Kojima, a Japanese man sentenced in 2007 to 21 months in prison for running an international trafficking operation. Jani Actman, National Geographic, "Bug smuggling is big business," 5 Sep. 2019 Courts sentenced four protesters to prison on Tuesday and Wednesday for their actions during the July 27 demonstration, but dropped charges against five others and released two to house arrest. Will Englund, Washington Post, "In Russia’s local elections, the vote totals are not what really count," 5 Sep. 2019 Under the terms of Patterson’s plea agreement, negotiated by his lawyer, Walter D. Hussey, and prosecutors David Zagaja and John Fahey, Patterson will be sentenced to 10 years in prison to run concurrently with his 100-year sentence. David Owens,, "Hartford man pleads guilty to killing third man in 2008," 4 Sep. 2019 View Sample Sign Up Now Turner was sentenced to just six months in county jail for the assault, although the crime carried a maximum of 14 years in prison. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "'Emily Doe's' Victim Impact Statement Became a National Rallying Cry. Now We Know Her Name," 4 Sep. 2019 Judge Heidi Moawad sentenced Leptich as outlined in a plea agreement worked out between the prosecution and the defense. oregonlive, "Drunken driver who fatally struck pedestrian on dark SE Portland street gets 2 years in prison," 4 Sep. 2019 Public backlash to this ruling later led the judge who sentenced Turner to be recalled by voters in 2018. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Stanford Sexual Assault Case Survivor Emily Doe Comes Forward as Chanel Miller," 4 Sep. 2019 In June courts sentenced Masoud Kazemi, editor-in-chief of the monthly Sedaye Parsi political magazine, to four and a half years in prison on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda and insulting the supreme leader and other Iranian officials. Lydia Belanger, Fortune, "The 10 Most Urgent Cases of Injustice Against the Press This Month," 3 Sep. 2019 In the early 1700s, a Scottish woman named Lilias Adie was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn at the stake. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Wanted: The Missing Bones of a Scottish ‘Witch’," 3 Sep. 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

7 Sep 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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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).


recurring in steady succession

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