- Grammar. a grammatical unit of one or more words that expresses an independent statement, question, request, command, exclamation, etc., and that typically has a subject as well as a predicate, as in John is here. or Is John here? In print or writing, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with appropriate punctuation; in speech it displays recognizable, communicative intonation patterns and is often marked by preceding and following pauses.
- 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.
- Music. a complete idea, usually consisting of eight to sixteen measures; period(def 18).See also phrase(def 4).
- Archaic. a saying, apothegm, or maxim.
- Obsolete. an opinion given on a particular question.
- to pronounce sentence upon; condemn to punishment: The judge sentenced her to six months in jail.
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.
- a sequence of words capable of standing alone to make an assertion, ask a question, or give a command, usually consisting of a subject and a predicate containing a finite verb
- the judgment formally pronounced upon a person convicted in criminal proceedings, esp the decision as to what punishment is to be imposed
- an opinion, judgment, or decision
- music another word for period (def. 11)
- any short passage of scripture employed in liturgical usethe funeral sentences
- logic a well-formed expression, without variables
- archaic a proverb, maxim, or aphorism
- (tr) to pronounce sentence on (a convicted person) in a court of lawthe judge sentenced the murderer to life imprisonment
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.