See more synonyms for sense on
  1. any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body: My sense of smell tells me that dinner is ready.
  2. these faculties collectively.
  3. their operation or function; sensation.
  4. a feeling or perception produced through the organs of touch, taste, etc., or resulting from a particular condition of some part of the body: to have a sense of cold.
  5. a faculty or function of the mind analogous to sensation: the moral sense.
  6. any special capacity for perception, estimation, appreciation, etc.: a sense of humor.
  7. Usually senses. clear and sound mental faculties; sanity: Have you taken leave of your senses?
  8. a more or less vague perception or impression: a sense of security.
  9. a mental discernment, realization, or recognition; acuteness: a just sense of the worth of a thing.
  10. the recognition of something as incumbent or fitting: a sense of duty.
  11. sound practical intelligence: He has no sense.
  12. something that is sensible or reasonable: Try to talk sense instead of shouting.
  13. the meaning or gist of something: You missed the sense of his statement.
  14. the value or worth of something; merit: There's no sense in worrying about the past.
  15. 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.
  16. an opinion or judgment formed or held, especially by an assemblage or body of persons: the sense of a meeting.
  17. Genetics. a DNA sequence that is capable of coding for an amino acid (distinguished from nonsense).
  18. 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.
  2. to grasp the meaning of; understand.
  3. (of certain mechanical devices) to detect physical phenomena, as light, temperature, radioactivity, etc., mechanically, electrically, or photoelectrically.
  4. Computers. to read (punched holes, tape, data, etc.) mechanically, electrically, or photoelectrically.
  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.
  3. make sense, to be reasonable or comprehensible: His attitude doesn't make sense.

Origin of sense

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English < Latin sēnsus sensation, feeling, understanding, equivalent to sent(īre) to feel + -tus suffix of v. action, with tt > s; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related formshalf-sensed, adjectiveun·sensed, adjectiveun·sens·ing, adjective
Can be confusedcents scents sense

Synonyms for sense

See more synonyms for on
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. 5. awareness, apprehension. 7. rationality. 9. estimation, appreciation. 13. signification, import, denotation, connotation, interpretation. See meaning. 16. feeling, sentiment. 19. discern, appreciate, recognize. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sensing

Contemporary Examples of sensing

Historical Examples of sensing

  • As if sensing his inspection, she turned toward him, and met his wondering eyes.

    The Plunderer

    Roy Norton

  • An alert watchbird, sensing violence, had knocked him out of his seat.


    Robert Sheckley

  • The hairy ones crowded around him, sensing a change in plan.

    The Devil's Asteroid

    Manly Wade Wellman

  • "I'm sorry to disturb you at this hour of the night," said Tarling, sensing her disapproval.

  • Sensing the purpose to offend, Terry straightened in his chair to face Sears.


    Charles Goff Thomson

British Dictionary definitions for sensing


  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
  3. a feeling perceived through one of the sensesa sense of warmth
  4. a mental perception or awarenessa sense of happiness
  5. moral discernment; understandinga sense of right and wrong
  6. (sometimes plural) sound practical judgment or intelligencehe is a man without any sense
  7. reason or purposewhat is the sense of going out in the rain?
  8. substance or gist; meaningwhat is the sense of this proverb?
  9. specific meaning; definitionin what sense are you using the word?
  10. an opinion or consensus
  11. maths one of two opposite directions measured on a directed line; the sign as contrasted with the magnitude of a vector
  12. logic linguistics
    1. 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
    2. the property of an expression by virtue of which its referent is determined
    3. that which one grasps in understanding an expression
  13. make sense to be reasonable or understandable
  14. take leave of one's senses See leave 2 (def. 8)
verb (tr)
  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
  3. to understand
  4. computing
    1. to test or locate the position of (a part of computer hardware)
    2. to read (data)

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for sensing



c.1400, "faculty of perception," also "meaning, import, interpretation" (especially of Holy Scripture), from Old French sens "one of the five senses; meaning; wit, understanding" (12c.) and directly from Latin sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning," from sentire "perceive, feel, know," probably a figurative use of a literally meaning "to find one's way," or "to go mentally," from PIE root *sent- "to go" (cf. Old High German sinnan "to go, travel, strive after, have in mind, perceive," German Sinn "sense, mind," Old English sið "way, journey," Old Irish set, Welsh hynt "way"). Application to any one of the external or outward senses (touch, sight, hearing, etc.) in English first recorded 1520s.

A certain negro tribe has a special word for "see;" but only one general word for "hear," "touch," "smell," and "taste." It matters little through which sense I realize that in the dark I have blundered into a pig-sty. In French "sentir" means to smell, to touch, and to feel, all together. [Erich M. von Hornbostel, "Die Einheit der Sinne" ("The Unity of the Senses"), 1927]

Meaning "that which is wise" is from c.1600. Meaning "capacity for perception and appreciation" is from c.1600 (e.g. Sense of humor, attested by 1783, sense of shame, 1640s).



"to perceive by the senses," 1590s, from sense (n.). Meaning "be conscious inwardly of (one's state or condition) is from 1680s. Meaning "perceive (a fact or situation) not by direct perception" is from 1872. Related: Sensed; sensing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sensing in Medicine


  1. Any of the faculties by which stimuli from outside or inside the body are received and felt, as the faculties of hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste, and equilibrium.
  2. A perception or feeling that is produced by a stimulus; sensation, as of hunger.
  1. To become aware of; perceive.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with sensing


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.