1
: capable of sensing or feeling : conscious of or responsive to the sensations of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, or smelling
sentient beings
Some among the group of potters … speak of the kiln as though it were sentient.Barry Lopez
But the really intriguing question is a hypothetical one. What would Google's response be if it realised that it actually had a sentient machine on its hands?John Naughton
But the terrible silence and emptiness seemed to symbolize her future—she felt as though the house, the street, the world were all empty, and she alone left sentient in a lifeless universe.Edith Wharton
2
: aware
sentient of the danger posed by the approaching hurricane
But the strange thing is that a boy so sentient of his surroundings should have been so insensible to the real world about him.W. A. White
3
: finely sensitive in perception or feeling
a sentient author with beautiful prose
As every sentient diplomat knows, diplomacy uses the reputation of power to achieve what power itself often cannot achieve, or can achieve only at greater and sometimes excessive cost.Colin L. Powell
sentiently adverb

Did you know?

You may have guessed that sentient has something to do with the senses. The initial spelling sent- or sens- is often a giveaway for such a meaning. A sentient being is one who perceives and responds to sensations of whatever kind—sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell. Sentient ultimately comes from the Latin verb sentire, which means "to feel" or "to perceive," and is related to the noun sensus, meaning "sense." A few related English words are sentiment and sentimental, which have to do with emotions, sensual, which relates to more physical sensations, and the trio of assent, consent, and dissent, which involve one's expressions of agreement (or disagreement in the case of dissent) in thought and feeling with another.

Examples of sentient in a Sentence

sentient of the danger posed by the approaching hurricane
Recent Examples on the Web The trailer features a truly wild collection of bad guys, the most notable of which is a giant fire…thing, that appears to be a giant sentient brazier. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 But Diop makes a key distinction in her work from the outset by introducing a beguiling element of poetic fantasy, giving sentient consciousness and voices to the artifacts, starting with item #26, an imposing statue of King Ghezo. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Feb. 2024 With the help of Pablo Santiago’s dazzling lighting and Everett Elton Bradman’s crisp sound design, the interactive set becomes increasingly sentient, while splitting the difference between unnerving and amusing. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2024 Think of it like a sentient car manual, able to tell you anything about your car, explain the why, and give it a lot of nuance. Tim Stevens, Ars Technica, 17 Jan. 2024 Some people thought Bing Chat was sentient, despite AI experts' assurances to the contrary. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 18 Dec. 2023 In fact, doubting the benefits of artificial general intelligence (AGI), the industry term for a truly sentient AI, is the only sin of his religion. Robert Evans, Rolling Stone, 27 Jan. 2024 But what happens when great power comes from a sentient alien symbiote with a murderous hive mind? Katcy Stephan, Variety, 16 Oct. 2023 And consent or reciprocity isn’t possible when only one participant is sentient. Ethan Brooks, The Atlantic, 14 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sentient.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin sentient-, sentiens, present participle of sentire to perceive, feel

First Known Use

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sentient was in 1604

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Dictionary Entries Near sentient

Cite this Entry

“Sentient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sentient. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

sentient

adjective
sen·​tient ˈsen-ch(ē-)ənt How to pronounce sentient (audio)
1
: capable of sensing or feeling
sentient beings
2
: aware
sentient of one's surroundings

Medical Definition

sentient

adjective
: responsive to or conscious of sense impressions
sentiently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on sentient

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