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conscience

[kon-shuh ns] /ˈkɒn ʃəns/
noun
1.
the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action:
to follow the dictates of conscience.
2.
the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
3.
an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
5.
Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.
6.
Obsolete. strict and reverential observance.
Idioms
7.
have something on one's conscience, to feel guilty about something, as an act that one considers wrong:
She behaves as if she had something on her conscience.
8.
in all conscience,
  1. in all reason and fairness.
  2. certainly; assuredly.
Also, in conscience.
Origin of conscience
1175-1225
1175-1225; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin conscientia knowledge, awareness, conscience. See con-, science
Related forms
conscienceless, adjective
consciencelessly, adverb
consciencelessness, noun
subconscience, noun
Can be confused
conscience, conscious.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for conscience
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Here stands its Government, aware of its might but obedient to its conscience.

  • The distinctive principle of the book was that the State had a conscience.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • But as Mr. Gladstone was then, so he has been all his life—the very Quixote of conscience.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • In our own single manhood to be bold, Fortressed in conscience and impregnable.'

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • Yes, indeed; I got more by that means, than I should have had the conscience to ask.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for conscience

conscience

/ˈkɒnʃəns/
noun
1.
  1. the sense of right and wrong that governs a person's thoughts and actions
  2. regulation of one's actions in conformity to this sense
  3. a supposed universal faculty of moral insight
2.
conscientiousness; diligence
3.
a feeling of guilt or anxiety: he has a conscience about his unkind action
4.
(obsolete) consciousness
5.
in conscience, in all conscience
  1. with regard to truth and justice
  2. certainly
6.
on one's conscience, causing feelings of guilt or remorse
Derived Forms
conscienceless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Latin conscientia knowledge, consciousness, from conscīre to know; see conscious
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for conscience
n.

early 13c., from Old French conscience "conscience, innermost thoughts, desires, intentions; feelings" (12c.), from Latin conscientia "knowledge within oneself, sense of right, a moral sense," from conscientem (nominative consciens), present participle of conscire "be (mutually) aware," from com- "with," or "thoroughly" (see com-) + scire "to know" (see science).

Probably a loan-translation of Greek syneidesis, literally "with-knowledge." Sometimes nativized in Old English/Middle English as inwit. Russian also uses a loan-translation, so-vest, "conscience," literally "with-knowledge."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conscience in Medicine

conscience con·science (kŏn'shəns)
n.

  1. The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one's conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong.

  2. The part of the superego that judges the ethical nature of one's actions and thoughts and then transmits such determinations to the ego for consideration.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with conscience
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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