pertaining to, inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal; fleshly.
lacking in moral restraints; lewd or unchaste.
arousing or exciting the senses or appetites.
worldly; materialistic; irreligious.
of or relating to the senses or physical sensation; sensory.
pertaining to the philosophical doctrine of sensationalism.

Origin of sensual

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin sēnsuālis, equivalent to sēnsu-, stem of sēnsus sense + -ālis -al1
Related formssen·su·al·ly, adverbhy·per·sen·su·al, adjectivehy·per·sen·su·al·ly, adverbhy·per·sen·su·al·ness, nounnon·sen·su·al, adjectivenon·sen·su·al·ly, adverbsub·sen·su·al, adjectivesub·sen·su·al·ly, adverbtrans·sen·su·al, adjectivetrans·sen·su·al·ly, adverbun·sen·su·al, adjectiveun·sen·su·al·ly, adverb
Can be confusedsensual sensuous (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for sensual

Synonym study

1. Sensual, sensuous, voluptuous refer to experience through the senses. Sensual refers, often unfavorably, to the enjoyments derived from the senses, especially from the gratification or indulgence of physical appetites: a sensual delight in eating; sensual excesses. Sensuous refers, favorably or literally, to what is experienced through the senses: sensuous impressions; sensuous poetry. Voluptuous implies the luxurious gratification of sensuous or sensual desires: voluptuous joys; voluptuous beauty. See also carnal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sensual

Contemporary Examples of sensual

Historical Examples of sensual

  • But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

  • He was particularly in love that day, but did not experience any sensual desire for her.

    Father Sergius

    Leo Tolstoy

  • Both these statements are false: she is sensual in another manner.

  • No, the spiritual ought not and can not be free from the sensuous, even the sensual.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

British Dictionary definitions for sensual



of or relating to any of the senses or sense organs; bodily
strongly or unduly inclined to gratification of the senses
tending to arouse the bodily appetites, esp the sexual appetite
of or relating to sensualism
Derived Formssensually, adverbsensualness, noun

Word Origin for sensual

C15: from Late Latin sensuālis, from Latin sēnsus sense . Compare French sensuel, Italian sensuale
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 sensual

early 15c., "carnal, unspiritual;" mid-15c., "of or pertaining to the senses," from Middle French sensuel (15c.) and directly from Late Latin sensualis "endowed with feeling" (see sensuality). Meaning "connected with gratification of the senses," especially "lewd, unchaste" is attested from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sensual in Medicine




Relating to or affecting any of the senses or a sense organ; sensory.
Of, relating to, given to, or providing gratification of the physical and especially the sexual appetites.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.