sense

1 of 2

noun

1
: a meaning conveyed or intended : import, signification
especially : one of a set of meanings a word or phrase may bear especially as segregated in a dictionary entry
2
a
: the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organs
b
: a specialized function or mechanism (such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimuli
c
: the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (such as movement or thought)
3
: conscious awareness or rationality
usually used in plural
finally came to his senses
4
a
: a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation
a good sense of balance
b
: a definite but often vague awareness or impression
felt a sense of insecurity
a sense of danger
c
: a motivating awareness
a sense of shame
d
: a discerning awareness and appreciation
her sense of humor
5
: consensus
the sense of the meeting
6
a
: capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response : intelligence
b
: sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality
also : agreement with or satisfaction of such power
this decision makes sense
7
: one of two opposite directions especially of motion (as of a point, line, or surface)

sense

2 of 2

verb

sensed; sensing

transitive verb

1
a
: to perceive by the senses (see sense entry 1 sense 2)
b
: to be or become conscious of
sense danger
2
3
: to detect automatically especially in response to a physical stimulus (such as light or movement)
Choose the Right Synonym for sense

sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions.

sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence.

a choice showing good sense

common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge.

common sense tells me it's wrong

judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity.

they relied on her judgment for guidance

wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average.

a leader of rare wisdom

Example Sentences

Noun There is an unnerving sense now that technology is driving the culture rather than the reverse. Machines and sites and software are breeding at an exponential clip, and we hapless humans race around trying to adapt. Steven Johnson, Discover, July 2006 The caricature of neurotic nuns who specialized in corporal punishment and guilt crumbles before the countless examples of women religious who made the difference in determining that a child would eat, or be safe, or have any sense of dignity at all. Luke Timothy Johnson, Commonweal, 22 Sept. 2006 Because Updike shrinks from giving any real credence to the ideology that drives his plot (in both senses of that word), the book becomes a temporarily enthralling, but ultimately empty shaggy dog story. Jonathan Raban, New York Review of Books, 13 July 2006 Less distinguished people experience a similar tangling of the senses, some reporting that they can taste the words they speak or see the colors of certain words or numbers. This confounding of perception—called synesthesia—was thought to affect at most about 4 percent of the population, but University College London psychologist Jamie Ward has uncovered the best evidence yet that we may all have a bit of synesthesia. Kathryn Garfield, Discover, December 2006 All of my senses were on the alert for danger. We had a sense that something wasn't quite right. His senses were clear despite his illness. Verb The latest feature on air conditioners is a big new plug to help prevent fires. The plug shuts down power when it senses that the air conditioner cord is damaged. Consumer Reports, July 2005 With very little provocation, magic might have been flying back and forth in an unpleasant and damaging manner. Sensing the danger, Kate stepped between them and raised her hands. "Let us have no more of this. There is a confusion to be cleared up, and I cannot do that in the middle of a brannigan," she said. John Morressy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, October/November 2004 In Pecnik, he had instantly sensed a kindred spirit. As a boy Pecnik had strapped homemade parachutes to hamsters and tossed them (without harm) from his sixth-story bedroom window; by the time he joined the Croatian national team he was making his own jumpsuits. William Speed Weed, Popular Science, July 2003 She immediately sensed my dislike. A motion detector can sense movement. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
There is no sense at this point at a national level. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 22 Nov. 2022 Since Elon Musk took over Twitter in late October, there’s been a sense that the ship is sinking, with the platform’s users scurrying offboard to safety. WIRED, 22 Nov. 2022 One thing Iger immediately brings is a sense of stability. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2022 But because what defines this increasingly attractive corner of the economy is a sense of exclusivity, the makers of high-end wines, cars, watches and other collectibles have had to up the ante. Jill Newman, Robb Report, 20 Nov. 2022 At least with true crime, there’s a sense of success perpetuating repetition and remaking. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Nov. 2022 Dean Davies, then of the Presiding Bishopric, explained in 2020 that reverence is a sense of awe before the divine. The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Nov. 2022 At points, there was a real sense of fatigue and frustration. Ella Nilsen, CNN, 19 Nov. 2022 Maybe there would have been any sense of competitiveness to the proceedings between the Huskies and No. 12 Gilbert. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 19 Nov. 2022
Verb
If the players in the locker room don’t sense that the coaches are doing everything in their power to put them in a position to win every week, those coaches are going to lose the locker room in a hurry. Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune, 28 Sep. 2022 That's largely as a result of dogs' ability to sense COVID-19 in symptomatic and asymptomatic people. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, 3 June 2022 This being the wizarding world, the election involves acclamation not by anything so pedestrian as the popular vote, but by the approval of the qilin, which has the magical ability to sense a man or woman of honor and good character. Washington Post, 12 Apr. 2022 Some premium 2-in-1s can sense the difference between hard flooring and carpets to choose the appropriate cleaning method automatically. Ben Gottesman, PCMAG, 31 Oct. 2022 Even Tchaparian’s 89-year-old father — who’s lived so much of the history on this album — can sense that. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 21 Oct. 2022 Paulone can sense DeFalco, a talented junior, is putting too much pressure on himself. The Indianapolis Star, 13 Oct. 2022 Yet somehow, the ants can sense these small shifts with their bodies. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 16 Sep. 2022 The controllers can sense a wide range of hand and arm motions too, of course, from wielding melee weapons to throwing objects to climbing ladders. Zombies! WIRED, 15 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French sen, sens sensation, feeling, mechanism of perception, meaning, from Latin sensus, from sentire to perceive, feel; perhaps akin to Old High German sinnan to go, strive, Old English sith journey — more at send

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of sense was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near sense

Cite this Entry

“Sense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sense. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

sense 1 of 2

noun

1
: a meaning or one of a set of meanings a word, phrase, or story may have
2
a
: the power to become aware of by means of sense organs
b
: a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) of the body that involves the action and effect of a stimulus on a sense organ
the pain sense
3
a
: a particular sensation or kind of sensation
a good sense of balance
b
: awareness arrived at through or as if through the senses
a vague sense of danger
c
: an awareness and appreciation of something
a fine sense of humor
4
b
: good reason or excuse
no sense in waiting

sense

2 of 2

verb

sensed; sensing
1
: to become aware of through the senses
2
: to be or become conscious of
sense danger
3
: to detect automatically especially in response to a physical quantity (as light or movement)

Medical Definition

sense 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organs
b
: a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimuli
c
: the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (as movement or thought)
2
: a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation
a good sense of balance

sense

2 of 2

transitive verb

sensed; sensing
: to perceive by the senses

More from Merriam-Webster on sense

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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