[kuh n-sen-suh s]

noun, plural con·sen·sus·es.

majority of opinion: The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.
general agreement or concord; harmony.

Origin of consensus

1850–55; < Latin, equivalent to consent(īre) to be in agreement, harmony (con- con- + sentīre to feel; cf. sense) + -tus suffix of v. action
Can be confusedcensus consensus (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Many say that the phrase consensus of opinion is redundant and hence should be avoided: The committee's statement represented a consensus of opinion. The expression is redundant, however, only if consensus is taken in the sense “majority of opinion” rather than in its equally valid and earlier sense “general agreement or concord.” Criticism of consensus of opinion has been so persistent and widespread that the phrase, even though in common use, occurs only infrequently in edited formal writing. The phrase general consensus is objected to for similar reasons. Consensus is now widely used attributively, especially in the phrase consensus politics.

consensus gentium

[kohn-sen-soo s gen-tee-oo m; English kuh n-sen-suh s jen-shee-uh m]

noun Latin.

agreement of the people. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for consensus

harmony, unity, consent, accord, unanimity, unison, concurrence, concord

Examples from the Web for consensus

Contemporary Examples of consensus

Historical Examples of consensus

  • There was a consensus of opinion as to the importance of the news.

  • It was the consensus of opinion that the only thing that prevented his swimming was his curls.

  • The 1964 presidential election was at hand to test this consensus.

  • The consensus of a number promises triumph for the impulse, whatever it is.


    William Graham Sumner

  • There is no consensus expressed in it and the symbolism is elaborate.


    William Graham Sumner

British Dictionary definitions for consensus



general or widespread agreement (esp in the phrase consensus of opinion)

Word Origin for consensus

C19: from Latin, from consentīre to feel together, agree; see consent


Since consensus refers to a collective opinion, the words of opinion in the phrase consensus of opinion are redundant and should therefore be avoided
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

Word Origin and History for consensus

1854 as a term in physiology; 1861 of persons; from Latin consensus "agreement, accord," past participle of consentire (see consent). There is an isolated instance of the word from 1633.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper