sen·​tience | \ ˈsen(t)-sh(ē-)ən(t)s How to pronounce sentience (audio) , ˈsen-tē-ən(t)s \

Definition of sentience

1 : a sentient quality or state
2 : feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception and thought

Examples of sentience in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The machines then gained sentience and destroyed every living thing in their wake. Bob Vulfov, The New Yorker, "Hello, Earthlings, We Are Here to Destroy You," 5 Nov. 2019 Do the cats gain some higher sentience that allows them to walk upright, freed from the chains of walking on all fours? Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post, "The ‘Cats’ trailer dropped. We have 34 questions.," 18 July 2019 The common factor in these incidents, says Clayton, the psychology and environmental studies professor, is that people are not respecting the sentience of the animal. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "Why people risk their lives for the ultimate animal selfie," 12 Mar. 2019 Watching him achieve sentience has a wonderful twinge of Frankensteinian horror, as Forky is at first horrified by his newfound existence. Christian Holub,, "All hail Forky: Critics rave about the trash-toy at the center of Toy Story 4," 13 June 2019 Breaking with science fiction tradition, the computers did not gain sentience and attempt to destroy humanity with a robotic battleship. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Darren Aronofsky’s Pi day: this week in tech, 20 years ago," 14 July 2018 Why there’s no sentience kernels or A.I. or Olympias. Smith Henderson, Popular Mechanics, "Olympia," 20 Nov. 2017 But there’s a catch: humans have to prove their sentience in a talent show called the Megagalactic Grand Prix, instituted after a galaxy-wide conflict known as The Sentience Wars. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Space Opera is the funniest science fiction novel I’ve read since Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," 14 Apr. 2018 On HBO’s Westworld, female androids gain sentience and aim their guns at the humans who abused them. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Female Rage on Television Reaches a Boiling Point in Dietland," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sentience.' 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 sentience

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for sentience

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The first known use of sentience was in 1839

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Statistics for sentience

Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sentience.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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very cautious or careful

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