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sense Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a general conscious awareness
    • a sense of security
    • a sense of happiness
    • a sense of danger
    • a sense of self
  2. noun the meaning of a word or expression; the way in which a word or expression or situation can be interpreted
    • the dictionary gave several senses for the word
    • in the best sense charity is really a duty
    • the signifier is linked to the signified
  3. noun the faculty through which the external world is apprehended
    sentiency; sensory faculty; sentience; sensation.
    • in the dark he had to depend on touch and on his senses of smell and hearing
  4. noun sound practical judgment
    gumption; mother wit; horse sense; good sense; common sense.
    • Common sense is not so common
    • he hasn't got the sense God gave little green apples
    • fortunately she had the good sense to run away
  5. noun a natural appreciation or ability
    • a keen musical sense
    • a good sense of timing
  6. verb perceive by a physical sensation, e.g., coming from the skin or muscles
    • He felt the wind
    • She felt an object brushing her arm
    • He felt his flesh crawl
    • She felt the heat when she got out of the car
  7. verb detect some circumstance or entity automatically
    • This robot can sense the presence of people in the room
    • particle detectors sense ionization
  8. verb become aware of not through the senses but instinctively
    smell out; smell.
    • I sense his hostility
    • i smell trouble
    • smell out corruption
  9. verb comprehend
    • I sensed the real meaning of his letter

Sense noun
L. sensus, from sentire, sensum, to perceive, to feel, from the same root as E. send; cf. OHG. sin sense, mind, sinnan to go, to journey, G. sinnen to meditate, to think: cf. F. sens. For the change of meaning cf. See, v. t. See Send, and cf. Assent, Consent, Scent, v. t., Sentence, Sentient.
  1. (Physiol.) A faculty, possessed by animals, of perceiving external objects by means of impressions made upon certain organs (sensory or sense organs) of the body, or of perceiving changes in the condition of the body; as, the senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. See Muscular sense, under Muscular, and Temperature sense, under Temperature.
    Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep. Shak.
    What surmounts the reach Of human sense I shall delineate. Milton.
    The traitor Sense recalls The soaring soul from rest. Keble.
  2. Perception by the sensory organs of the body; sensation; sensibility; feeling.
    In a living creature, though never so great, the sense and the affects of any one part of the body instantly make a transcursion through the whole. Bacon.
  3. Perception through the intellect; apprehension; recognition; understanding; discernment; appreciation.
    This Basilius, having the quick sense of a lover. Sir P. Sidney.
    High disdain from sense of injured merit. Milton.
  4. Sound perception and reasoning; correct judgment; good mental capacity; understanding; also, that which is sound, true, or reasonable; rational meaning. "He speaks sense." Shak.
    He raves; his words are loose As heaps of sand, and scattering wide from sense. Dryden.
  5. That which is felt or is held as a sentiment, view, or opinion; judgment; notion; opinion.
    I speak my private but impartial sense With freedom. Roscommon.
    The municipal council of the city had ceased to speak the sense of the citizens. Macaulay.
  6. Meaning; import; signification; as, the true sense of words or phrases; the sense of a remark.
    So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense. Neh. viii. 8.
    I think 't was in another sense. Shak.
  7. Moral perception or appreciation.
    Some are so hardened in wickedness as to have no sense of the most friendly offices. L' Estrange.
  8. (Geom.) One of two opposite directions in which a line, surface, or volume, may be supposed to be described by the motion of a point, line, or surface. Syn. -- Understanding; reason. -- Sense, Understanding, Reason. Some philosophers have given a technical signification to these terms, which may here be stated. Sense is the mind's acting in the direct cognition either of material objects or of its own mental states. In the first case it is called the outer, in the second the inner, sense. Understanding is the logical faculty, i. e., the power of apprehending under general conceptions, or the power of classifying, arranging, and making deductions. Reason is the power of apprehending those first or fundamental truths or principles which are the conditions of all real and scientific knowledge, and which control the mind in all its processes of investigation and deduction. These distinctions are given, not as established, but simply because they often occur in writers of the present day.
Sense transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Sensed ; present participle & verbal noun Sensing
  1. To perceive by the senses; to recognize. Obs. or Colloq.
    Is he sure that objects are not otherwise sensed by others than they are by him? Glanvill.

Webster 1913