[ sens ]
See synonyms for: sensesensedsensessensing on

  1. any of the faculties, such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body: Helen Keller once wrote that hearing was the sense she most wished she could have had.

  2. Usually sen·ses . the faculties by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body collectively: His senses were screaming that danger was nearby.

  1. the operation or function of the organs of touch, taste, etc.; sensation: The bloodhound’s sense of smell is greatly enhanced by its long, droopy ears, which scoop up the scents from the ground.

  2. a feeling or perception produced through the organs of touch, taste, etc., or resulting from a particular condition of some part of the body: She had an uncomfortable sense of cold on the back of her neck.

  3. a faculty or function of the mind analogous to sensation: His moral sense rebelled against such an unethical scheme.

  4. any special capacity for perception, estimation, appreciation, etc.: In this job you've got to have a sense of humor.

  5. Usually sen·ses . clear and sound mental faculties; sanity: Have you taken leave of your senses?

  6. a more or less vague perception or impression: Sitting with his back to the wall gave him a sense of security.

  7. a mental discernment, realization, or recognition: All workers should have a sense of the worth of their labor.

  8. the recognition of something as incumbent or fitting: My sense of duty compels me to accept this mission.

  9. sound practical intelligence: He has no sense.

  10. something that is sensible or reasonable: Try to talk sense instead of shouting.

  11. the meaning or gist of something: You missed the sense of his statement.

  12. the value or worth of something; merit: There's no sense in worrying about the past.

  13. the meaning of a word or phrase in a specific context, especially as isolated in a dictionary or glossary; the semantic element in a word or group of words: The word "dog" has a literal sense, but it can also be metaphorical.

  14. an opinion or judgment formed or held, especially by an assemblage or body of persons: We didn't bother with formal minutes, but we did take notes on the general sense of the meeting.

  15. Genetics. a DNA sequence that is capable of coding for an amino acid (distinguished from nonsense).

  16. Mathematics. one of two opposite directions in which a vector may point.

verb (used with object),sensed, sens·ing.
  1. to perceive (something) by the senses; become aware of: I sense there's a storm on the way.

  2. to grasp the meaning of; understand.

  1. (of certain mechanical devices) to detect physical phenomena, as light, temperature, radioactivity, etc., mechanically, electrically, or photoelectrically.

  2. Computers. to receive or capture (encoded data) electrically, photoelectrically, etc., through an input device: When you scan the bar code, an optical mark reader senses the data encoded in the position of the bars.: Compare read1 (def. 16).

Idioms about sense

  1. come to one's senses, to regain one's good judgment or realistic point of view; become reasonable.

  2. in a sense, according to one explanation or view; to a certain extent: In a sense it may have been the only possible solution.

  1. make sense, to be reasonable or comprehensible: His attitude doesn't make sense.

Origin of sense

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English noun sens(e), from Middle French sens and Latin sēnsus “sensation, feeling, understanding,” equivalent to sent(īre) “to feel” + -sus, a variant of -tus, suffix of verbal action; verb derivative of the noun

synonym study For sense

4. Sense, sensation refer to consciousness of stimulus or of a perception as pleasant or unpleasant. A sense is an awareness or recognition of something; the stimulus may be subjective and the entire process may be mental or intellectual: a sense of failure. A sensation is an impression derived from an objective (external) stimulus through any of the sense organs: a sensation of heat. It is also a general, indefinite physical or emotional feeling: a sensation of weariness. 13. See meaning.

Other words for sense

Other words from sense

  • half-sensed, adjective
  • un·sensed, adjective
  • un·sens·ing, adjective

Words that may be confused with sense

Words Nearby sense Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sense in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sense


/ (sɛns) /

  1. any of the faculties by which the mind receives information about the external world or about the state of the body. In addition to the five traditional faculties of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, the term includes the means by which bodily position, temperature, pain, balance, etc, are perceived

  2. such faculties collectively; the ability to perceive

  1. a feeling perceived through one of the senses: a sense of warmth

  2. a mental perception or awareness: a sense of happiness

  3. moral discernment; understanding: a sense of right and wrong

  4. (sometimes plural) sound practical judgment or intelligence: he is a man without any sense

  5. reason or purpose: what is the sense of going out in the rain?

  6. substance or gist; meaning: what is the sense of this proverb?

  7. specific meaning; definition: in what sense are you using the word?

  8. an opinion or consensus

  9. maths one of two opposite directions measured on a directed line; the sign as contrasted with the magnitude of a vector

  10. logic linguistics

    • the import of an expression as contrasted with its referent. Thus the morning star and the evening star have the same reference, Venus, but different senses

    • the property of an expression by virtue of which its referent is determined

    • that which one grasps in understanding an expression

  11. make sense to be reasonable or understandable

  12. take leave of one's senses See leave 2 (def. 8)

  1. to perceive through one or more of the senses

  2. to apprehend or detect without or in advance of the evidence of the senses

  1. to understand

  2. computing

    • to test or locate the position of (a part of computer hardware)

    • to read (data)

Origin of sense

C14: from Latin sēnsus, from sentīre to feel

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with sense


see come to one's senses; horse sense; in a sense; lull into (a false sense of security); make sense; sixth sense; take leave of (one's senses); talk sense.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.