- an authoritative decision; a judicial judgment or decree, especially the judicial determination of the punishment to be inflicted on a convicted criminal: Knowledgeable sources say that the judge will announce the sentence early next week.
- the punishment itself; term: a three-year sentence.
verb (used with object), sen·tenced, sen·tenc·ing.
Origin of sentence
In everyday speech we routinely use phrases or clauses that would not make a complete sentence—so-called sentence fragments —because the conversation or the circumstances make the meaning clear. For example, we might answer a question like “Where did you go?” with “To the store,” or “Why can’t I stay out till midnight?” with “Because I say so,” or “What are you doing?” with “Trying to fix this toaster,” instead of “I went to the store,” “You can't stay out that late because I say so,” or “I am trying to fix this toaster.” In written dialogue sentence fragments are perfectly acceptable. They would generally be regarded as sentences simply because they begin with a capital letter and end with a suitable punctuation mark. But they are not sentences in a strict grammatical sense. And as a rule, sentence fragments are frowned upon in formal or expository writing. They can be useful—indeed, powerful—but in such writing they are effective only if used sparingly, in order to achieve a deliberate special effect: We will not give up fighting for this cause. Not now. Not ever.
Word Origin for sentence
c.1200, "doctrine, authoritative teaching; an authoritative pronouncement," from Old French sentence "judgment, decision; meaning; aphorism, maxim; statement of authority" (12c.) and directly from Latin sententia "thought, way of thinking, opinion; judgment, decision," also "a thought expressed; aphorism, saying," from sentientem, present participle of sentire "be of opinion, feel, perceive" (see sense (n.)). Loss of first -i- in Latin by dissimilation.
From early 14c. as "judgment rendered by God, or by one in authority; a verdict, decision in court;" from late 14c. as "understanding, wisdom; edifying subject matter." From late 14c. as "subject matter or content of a letter, book, speech, etc.," also in reference to a passage in a written work. Sense of "grammatically complete statement" is attested from mid-15c. "Meaning," then "meaning expressed in words." Related: Sentential.
"to pass judgment," c.1400, from sentence (n.). Related: Sentenced; sentencing.