[sen-sey-shuh n]
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  1. the operation or function of the senses; perception or awareness of stimuli through the senses.
  2. a mental condition or physical feeling resulting from stimulation of a sense organ or from internal bodily change, as cold or pain.
  3. Physiology. the faculty of perception of stimuli.
  4. a general feeling not directly attributable to any given stimulus, as discomfort, anxiety, or doubt.
  5. a mental feeling, especially a state of excited feeling.
  6. a state of excited feeling or interest caused among a number of persons or throughout a community, as by some rumor or occurrence.
  7. a cause of such feeling or interest: The new Brazilian movie was the sensation of the film festival.

Origin of sensation

1605–15; < Medieval Latin sēnsātiōn- (stem of sēnsātiō), equivalent to Late Latin sēnsāt(us) sensate + -iōn- -ion
Related formssen·sa·tion·less, adjectivenon·sen·sa·tion, nounre·sen·sa·tion, nounsub·sen·sa·tion, noun

Synonyms for sensation

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2, 4. See sense. 6. excitement, stimulation, animation; agitation, commotion, perturbation. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sensation

Contemporary Examples of sensation

Historical Examples of sensation

  • There was no time barren enough of sensation to reason about it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Cardinal Newman wrote: "Gladstone's book, as you see, is making a sensation."

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • He marveled dully over the sensation—it was wholly new to him.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • And the undercurrent of suppressed excitement, the sensation of Her!

  • John had a sensation of self-consciousness when he heard the word "wife."

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for sensation


  1. the power of perceiving through the senses
  2. a physical condition or experience resulting from the stimulation of one of the sense organsa sensation of warmth
  3. a general feeling or awarenessa sensation of fear
  4. a state of widespread public excitementhis announcement caused a sensation
  5. anything that causes such a stateyour speech was a sensation
Derived Formssensationless, adjective

Word Origin for sensation

C17: from Medieval Latin sensātiō, from Late Latin sensātus sensate
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 sensation

1610s, "a reaction to external stimulation of the sense organs," from French sensation (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin sensationem (nominative sensatio), from Late Latin sensatus "endowed with sense, sensible," from Latin sensus "feeling" (see sense (n.)). Meaning "state of shock, surprise, in a community" first recorded 1779.

The great object of life is sensation -- to feel that we exist, even though in pain. It is this 'craving void' which drives us to gaming -- to battle, to travel -- to intemperate, but keenly felt, pursuits of any description, whose principal attraction is the agitation inseparable from their accomplishment. [Lord Byron, letter, Sept. 6, 1813]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sensation in Medicine


  1. A perception associated with stimulation of a sense organ or with a specific body condition.
  2. The faculty to feel or perceive; physical sensibility.
  3. An indefinite, generalized body feeling.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.