Definition of sense in English:

sense

noun

  • 1A faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch:

    ‘the bear has a keen sense of smell which enables it to hunt at dusk’
    • ‘We use our senses of sight, smell, hearing, and of course then we filter it through the psychological baggage we all carry around.’
    • ‘They were doing this with their hands in the dark with just a flashlight, and just using their senses of touch, smell and sight.’
    • ‘This means that it has strong senses of smell and hearing.’
    • ‘The pure process of cycling undoubtedly brings about a much closer relationship with the countryside, and sharpens one's senses of hearing and smell.’
    • ‘Claudia pretended that she was blind and had to depend upon her senses of hearing, touch and smell.’
    • ‘His hearing was affected, and he had lost his sense of taste and smell.’
    • ‘Children begin to learn about their world by using their senses; touching, tasting, smelling, listening and looking.’
    • ‘He relies first on smell, then on taste; his sense of touch comes last.’
    • ‘The wall will include different pieces of artwork to stimulate various senses including touch, smell, sight and sound.’
    • ‘There are two primary forms of chemoreceptors: gustatory and olfactory, which are responsible for the senses of taste and smell.’
    • ‘Remaining motionless seems to enable elephants to focus their keen senses of smell and hearing on unfamiliar noises and odors in the air.’
    • ‘Get a sinus infection, or something head-cold related that muffles your senses of taste and smell for at least two weeks.’
    • ‘Crocodilians' senses of smell, sight, and hearing are well developed.’
    • ‘It is through our senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch - that we perceive the world around us.’
    • ‘They have keen hearing and good senses of vision and smell.’
    • ‘He still has back problems and has lost the senses of smell and taste, but has returned to college.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the senses of smell, taste, and touch have not been neglected.’
    • ‘Combined with good hearing and a sense of smell, human eyesight can be used to penetrate darkness.’
    • ‘Sensory evaluation is analysis of product attributes perceived by the human senses of smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.’
    • ‘But is it true what people say about the acuteness of senses of smell and taste being linked?’
    sensory faculty, feeling, sensation, perception
    View synonyms
  • 2A feeling that something is the case:

    ‘she had the sense of being a political outsider’
    ‘you can improve your general health and sense of well-being’
    • ‘An increased presence will boost the sense of security and encourage more people to use central Bradford.’
    • ‘Therefore, there is a greater sense of urgency to forge ahead with deals.’
    • ‘It suggests a sense of urgency and excitement, as do some of the hand-written articles in here.’
    • ‘What he has brought is a sense of urgency and ambition that has helped maintain a sharp focus.’
    • ‘Sporting occasions often don't count, as noisy tribal loyalties get in the way of a general sense of well-being.’
    • ‘Sometimes I think people lose all sense of reason when it comes to getting their hands on that magical half-price offer.’
    • ‘Now I'm no fan of fast food, but food with a sense of urgency would be nice.’
    • ‘Schlosberg's passionate rallying call pervades each song with a sense of urgency and zeal so often missed from other bands.’
    • ‘Whether or not there is a rational basis for their sense of humiliation is irrelevant.’
    • ‘There's a sense of urgency on every single point, on every shot, and it's an incredible challenge.’
    • ‘I guess that came from the pressure of deadlines, budget cuts, lay-offs and general sense of doom.’
    • ‘I recognize the downsides of a sense of urgency, but I think that they can be managed.’
    • ‘But mention the impending transfer deadline and the banalities are overwhelmed by his sense of urgency.’
    • ‘People lose their sense of reasonableness, they try to push in the ranks, try to get in taxis they shouldn't, and kick doors.’
    • ‘Now that it is back in US control, combined with the one-year hiatus, the sense of urgency has been diluted.’
    • ‘It was that sense of general fabulousness that got us all so excited when the award was announced.’
    • ‘So I wanted to share some sense of what the campaign looks like to me right now.’
    • ‘Lorraine waved her arms in a manner clearly designed to instill a sense of urgency in the observer.’
    • ‘When they discover a local death a new sense of purpose enters into the business of the day.’
    • ‘To explain why, we have to look at the more general sense of pessimism and distrust about science and innovation.’
    awareness, feeling, sensation, consciousness, perception, recognition
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something:
      ‘she had a fine sense of comic timing’
      • ‘It gave her an inflated sense of importance, and for a moment, she forgot her troubles.’
      • ‘Many of her poems and hymns capture her sense of the presence of God.’
      • ‘She has stage presence and a keen sense of the absurd, particularly in the political realm.’
      • ‘A powerful, quiet presence brings a reassuring sense of order and peace to a coming relationship.’
      • ‘That album was bloated, overblown and stuffed full of guitar solos and a misplaced sense of its own importance.’
      • ‘From the very first, there was a sense of importance about the venture.’
      • ‘She gained a sense of the importance of the work from her mother's commitment to it.’
      • ‘I think that they still have a tremendous sense of the importance of tradition and of duty.’
      • ‘We are looking for a reporter with a keen news sense and a strong awareness of the issues of importance to our readers.’
      • ‘It gave us all a sense of involvement and importance that electronic voting will never give us.’
      • ‘There are times when one gets a sense of being present at the making of history.’
      • ‘And sometimes national coaches possess a deluded sense of their own importance.’
      • ‘His sense of timing and presentation was a delight to watch and it made magic much more interesting.’
      • ‘I therefore approach this case with a keen sense of its importance.’
      • ‘He was devoted to his family and was a man with a fine sense of place who was well focussed on the important things in life.’
      • ‘I take this situation with a sense of irony, it's like a bad joke.’
      • ‘The game is physical and visceral, and we were amazed at just how clearly a sense of presence in time and space was communicated.’
      • ‘We have lost a general sense of purpose that a knowledge of our ancestors gives us.’
      • ‘Humour's your best medicine at present, and a sense of the absurd your saving grace.’
      • ‘Thus was Hollywood given the maniacal sense of its own importance that will continue to inflate until the crack of doom.’
      appreciation, awareness, understanding, comprehension, discernment, acknowledgement
      View synonyms
  • 3[mass noun] A sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems:

    ‘he earned respect by the good sense he showed at meetings’
    • ‘He came across as the charismatic voice of reason, talking sense and taking the long view.’
    • ‘He did have enough sense to realise that he'd run out of rope and that this was a straw at which he might clutch.’
    • ‘I can see that it makes logical sense but it just doesn't look right.’
    • ‘I mean it would make as much sense, and realistically is a feeling I'm more familiar with.’
    • ‘Will hesitated, all good sense and reason, even his own desires, begging him to keep his mouth shut.’
    • ‘Appealing to one's rational sense in their moment of deep anguish and distress is indeed a difficult task.’
    • ‘So fine, the game plan from here on in must be to suppress rationality and sense, because they only make good things go bad.’
    • ‘Common sense dictates that it is dangerous to use a mobile phone while driving.’
    • ‘At last, a voice of sense and reason from somebody who knows what they are talking about.’
    • ‘Besides, anyone with any sense would realise she'd be dirty after falling down a hole.’
    • ‘The journalist claimed he was treated bluntly and said the staff attitude made no business sense and he could have been making a booking.’
    • ‘This surely seems to make perfect sense and demonstrates an excellent compromise for parties concerned?’
    • ‘You can develop a very good business sense.’
    • ‘Common sense dictates avoiding areas of water where aggressive shark feeding has been noted.’
    • ‘That is not hypocrisy or betrayal, but simply rationality and good sense.’
    • ‘But your explanation makes a whole lot of sense, and has changed my views on the whole situation.’
    • ‘Taking into account the needs of suppliers is again a combination of shrewd business sense and good ethical practice.’
    • ‘They keep insisting every now and then that saner sense prevails, after all.’
    • ‘He has a bit of a twitching problem and I don't think any General with sense in his head would trust him with a gun.’
    • ‘Somehow, this absurd logic makes perfect sense in the right context.’
    wisdom, common sense, good sense, practicality, sagacity, sharpness, discernment, perception
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A reasonable or comprehensible rationale:
      ‘I can't see the sense in leaving all the work to you’
      • ‘In other words, religion is our way of making sense out of nonsense, necessary precisely because life, in and of itself, may well be meaningless.’
      • ‘If you are concerned this may be a possibility it makes sense to stick with your existing company.’
      • ‘If they will continue on that line, they will not be passing any law that has any rational sense.’
      • ‘It made economic sense, and it made sense to invest social capital in youth, he said.’
      • ‘It does make sense the Vikings would have settled here because of the water.’
      • ‘Her mind became a blur; nothing was making sense at that moment.’
      • ‘In detective fiction, everything ends up making sense.’
      • ‘It makes it difficult for City fans to stomach at the moment but in every sense young Hogg's departure made sense.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, myself and the board are charged with making rational sense of all this.’
      • ‘If the reasons make no sense and are without foundation then I should so rule.’
      • ‘If we suffer for no reason, if we can find no sense, no reason to our suffering, it makes us crazy.’
      • ‘Alas, all of what you're saying makes rational sense, but I think it may be totally beside the point.’
      • ‘Of course, that was ridiculous, but to her nothing made much rational sense.’
      • ‘The latter was an example of overreach that made no sense from an American standpoint.’
      • ‘Yet, with so little making sense at the moment, such mad ramblings become more potent.’
      • ‘Things were making sense: this must have been the ‘murder’ the girls were talking about - idle, mistaken gossip.’
      • ‘To say one can have a strong state makes no sense in this context.’
      • ‘He points out that remortgaging can make sense from an inheritance tax standpoint.’
      • ‘Making money and making sense at the same time.’
      • ‘Ethical living is promoted not because it makes rational sense, but because it offers a guide for personal behaviour.’
      purpose, point, reason, aim, object, motive, use, utility, value, advantage, benefit
      View synonyms
  • 4A way in which an expression or a situation can be interpreted; a meaning:

    ‘it is not clear which sense of the word ‘characters’ is intended in this passage’
    • ‘The defect remained a player, if I can use that expression in a causal sense, all the way through.’
    • ‘Animals do not have rights in the accepted sense of the word.’
    • ‘Perhaps because this one trait would be so overwhelming that we wouldn't be able to see them in any other way, and would demand that the situation be resolved in both senses of the word dramatically.’
    • ‘It comes as no surprise then to find that the expression has many different senses.’
    • ‘So many people today, not least those who blog, claim to be cynics, yet are not, in the strictest sense of the word.’
    • ‘The nature of Lloyd's is not governmental, even in the broad sense of that expression.’
    • ‘It is also a statutory expression in the sense that it is used in section 40.’
    • ‘He did not think of these contributions as being in the strict sense philosophical.’
    • ‘By default, the relation is one of possession, in the strict sense of the word.’
    • ‘He is a knowledge worker in all senses of the word and carries a message everyone involved in best practise in education should hear.’
    • ‘This is a dictionary in the strict sense: none of the entries runs more than a few pages.’
    • ‘In a more general sense, the painting offers a meditation on the eternal and the ephemeral.’
    • ‘As a result, this will likely be more of an explanation than a review in the strictest sense.’
    • ‘Dolly doesn't do proper jobs, at least not in any sense you'd readily recognize.’
    • ‘Some of the very best of today's specialist schools are comprehensive schools in this sense.’
    • ‘The definition of an ore, in the strictest sense, refers only to mineralized rocks that can be profitably mined.’
    • ‘Indeed on the contrary, far from being purer, it is more comprehensive in every sense of that term.’
    • ‘No, your Honour, nor is it being asked, in the legal sense, to interpret the agreement.’
    • ‘Later cases were less scrupulous in applying the metaphor and it came to be used in a very general sense.’
    • ‘We were in over our heads - in both senses of the expression.’
    meaning, definition, import, denotation, signification, significance, purport, implication, intention, nuance, drift, gist, thrust, tenor, burden, theme, message, essence, spirit, substance
    View synonyms
  • 5Physics Mathematics
    A property (e.g. direction of motion) distinguishing a pair of objects, quantities, effects, etc. which differ only in that each is the reverse of the other:

    ‘the cord does not become straight, but forms a length of helix in the opposite sense’
    1. 5.1Genetics [as modifier] Relating to or denoting a coding sequence of nucleotides, complementary to an antisense sequence.
      • ‘Polar mutations change a sense codon for a specific amino acid within a gene into a nonsense or translational termination codon.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Perceive by a sense or senses:

    ‘with the first frost, they could sense a change in the days’
    • ‘I sensed Jon noticed I wasn't happy about the mention of Michael.’
    • ‘Concentrations of some compounds of one part per 10,000 can be sensed, recognized, and remembered by the average person.’
    • ‘She immediately sensed the danger and turned and started to run toward the woods.’
    • ‘His sentence trailed but I could still sense unease in his voice.’
    • ‘But I kept sensing a presence behind the door, like a slight shadow, and when I opened the door Daniella was standing there.’
    • ‘Narrowing my eyes, I glanced upward, sensing the presence of another.’
    • ‘Sensing something amiss in Eliza's failure to respond, Walker reached for the closer of her hands.’
    • ‘She must have sensed me gearing up to patronise her.’
    • ‘Although these men tried to hide from his sight, he was able to sense their presence.’
    • ‘Sara, sensing the urgency in Kit's voice and movements nodded curtly and then left the tent, barking order to those just standing around as she did so.’
    • ‘I immediately sensed the presence of a group I had befriended before.’
    • ‘He must have sensed me coming as he maneuvered to avoid my attack.’
    • ‘Sera, sensing something wrong turned and saw Damon still slumped in his chair.’
    • ‘I could feel him there though, sensing me, moving cautiously, the way I was moving.’
    • ‘Perhaps sensing the change in mood, his sisters turned to fix him with concerned looks.’
    • ‘She sensed him observing her, again just as he always did.’
    • ‘And it's rather like if you remember at school when you used to go into the classroom and you sensed everybody was talking about you.’
    • ‘"Sit down, and I'll get you a drink, " Jones said, obviously sensing her discomfort.’
    • ‘The dog, having sensed something very bad, is on his back, his paws in the air, and he's whining.’
    • ‘Whether the vixen sensed my presence or perhaps it was simply time to move on, after a couple of minutes she moved closer to her cubs, looking around uneasily.’
    discern, feel, observe, notice, get the impression of, recognize, pick up, be cognizant of, become cognizant of, be aware of, become aware of, be conscious of, become conscious of, come to know, get to know, tell, distinguish, make out, find, identify, comprehend, apprehend, see, discover, learn, appreciate, realize, suspect, have a funny feeling, have a hunch, just know, divine, intuit, conceive
    catch on to
    twig
    cognize
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be aware of (something) without being able to define exactly how one knows:
      ‘she could sense her father's anger rising’
      [with clause] ‘he could sense that he wasn't liked’
      • ‘His father must have sensed it too, because he pulled away and turned around and left, pretty quickly.’
      • ‘Then, perhaps sensing what I really want, he points to his window.’
      • ‘Her father sensed her fear and discomfort and drew her to one side.’
      • ‘Alarmingly, a kind of savage intelligence is quite apparent in them; McIntyre senses this too.’
      • ‘She had been able to sense these things, but never been able to place a finger on anything.’
      • ‘The crowd, sensing the presence of danger, death, and violence in that place and moment, responds accordingly.’
      • ‘She could sense something strange about him but she couldn't put her finger on it.’
      • ‘Growing up in a bad neighborhood in Chicago had made Randy able to sense certain things.’
      • ‘But you sensed you couldn't talk about anything too personal.’
      • ‘It came within 50 feet of me and stopped, sensing something wrong.’
      • ‘As if sensing his presence the stranger turned and for just a brief instant looked directly at the kid across the street staring at him.’
      • ‘She could sense something different in his eyes as he looked at her tonight.’
      • ‘He says he can't do it any longer, but you sense his words belie his feelings.’
      • ‘Perhaps it was because he sensed the campaign - and his father - were faring so poorly.’
      • ‘She'd been sensing the growing attraction between Grace and her father for quite some time, and she always gave them every opportunity.’
      • ‘Sensing my uneasiness, Keith slipped his arms away from around my waist.’
      • ‘If Lance senses the slightest hint of disloyalty or lack of dedication, you're gone.’
      • ‘The machinations of Booker juries are a smugly guarded secret, but one senses a good few compromises and second-bests here.’
      • ‘I just sensed something was wrong when I saw them high-tailing on back.’
      • ‘I could sense his great urgency to unload what he had been through.’
  • 2(of a machine or similar device) detect:

    ‘an optical fibre senses a current flowing in a conductor’
    • ‘Modern sensing devices detect objects or terrain disturbances even though they are well camouflaged.’
    • ‘The study by Goodman et al is an example of a study using an objective technique for measuring inhaler skills, a computer sensing device.’
    • ‘The device can also be configured to provide different audible sounds for different movements that are sensed by the device.’
    • ‘As soon as the motion detectors sensed that I had entered the elevator, the door closed as rapidly as it had opened.’
    • ‘Note that when used with a compact fluorescent bulb, the local control mode in the appliance module often senses a small current flow and keeps turning on.’

Phrases

  • bring someone to their (or come to one's) senses

    • 1Restore someone to (or regain) consciousness:

      ‘for a few minutes I was shell-shocked but I was quickly brought to my senses’
      • ‘It woke me up in a sense, I felt that I came to my senses in many ways and I think my dad could see that and having gone through that incredible ordeal, it created this bond and brought us very close.’
      resuscitate, bring round, bring to life, bring back, bring someone to their senses, bring someone back to their senses, bring back to consciousness, bring back from the edge of death
      regain consciousness, recover consciousness, come round, come to life, come to one's senses, recover, awake, wake up
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Cause someone to (or start to) think and behave reasonably after a period of folly or irrationality:
        ‘the shock of the deal falling through brought her to her senses and made her realize how serious the situation was’
        • ‘An authoritative voice made me quickly come to my senses.’
        • ‘There is no reason to believe that they have come to their senses.’
        • ‘Will we, as a people, come to our senses and restore the only REAL money there is?’
        • ‘I will go this time, if he does not come to his senses I shall deal with him.’
        • ‘Quickly coming to his senses, he reached and grabbed a shirt and pulled it over his head, cursing at himself for creating the already awkward situation more awkward.’
  • in a (or one) sense

    • By a particular interpretation of a statement or situation:

      ‘in a sense, behaviour cannot develop independently of the environment’
      • ‘Perhaps it's not fashionable in one sense of the word, but it is devilishly stylish and perhaps rather reassuring to be outside of a box.’
      • ‘It's amusing in one sense that you have to sing in English to become accepted.’
      • ‘But that general statement of principle is in one sense no help.’
      • ‘That's true in one sense, but there's a difference between getting that from a sports team and a street gang.’
      • ‘It's shaming in one sense, but never underestimate the depth of despair supporters are prepared to endure.’
  • in every sense of the word

    • In every way in which something could be interpreted or understood:

      ‘a true artist in every sense of the word’
      • ‘It's great to know that when those hunger pangs strike, you will be well catered for, in every sense of the word.’
      • ‘Well these hanging file frames are "cheap" in every sense of the word.’
      • ‘Stephanie is beautiful in every sense of the word.’
      • ‘They are "heroes" in every sense of the word.’
      • ‘He was a true character in every sense of the word, with numerous tales to relate about his working life on the land and also his time in the army.’
      • ‘They're common, in every sense of the word.’
      • ‘My hat is off to Rob and Jeff, a pair of champions in every sense of the word.’
  • in one's senses

    • Fully aware and in control of one's thoughts and words; sane:

      ‘would any man in his senses invent so absurd a story?’
      • ‘But it did rain a couple of times, and he has arthritis, nobody in their senses would expect him to work in the wet.’
      • ‘Better still, nobody in his senses will even argue that it can even in future earn profits.’
      • ‘No one in his senses doubts the existence of material objects.’
      • ‘But I was not in my senses… pushing thoughts of him from my mind, I concentrated solely on getting back as fast as I could.’
      • ‘His sons refused, thinking that their father was not in his senses.’
  • make sense

    • Be intelligible, justifiable, or practicable:

      ‘it makes sense to start saving early for higher education’
      ‘the policy made economic sense’
      • ‘The problem is that the narrative makes no sense on a realistic level.’
      • ‘That makes no sense in some situations, such as when a PI requires information to trace a missing person.’
      • ‘Now there's a modern spin on an old idea that makes better sense than sending bored officers plodding along mostly quiet streets.’
      • ‘This of course makes medical sense but the situation appears to be less manageable as the weeks go by.’
      • ‘Sandra's basket contents make perfect sense from a nutritional perspective.’
      be accepted, be acceptable, be plausible, be convincing, hold up, hold water, stand up, bear scrutiny, stand the test of time, be believable, be credible, pass muster, prove true, make sense
      View synonyms
  • make sense of

    • Find meaning or coherence in:

      ‘she must try to make sense of what was going on’
      • ‘I had planned to write a review of the piece but it's pretty difficult to make sense of in words.’
      • ‘He is more concerned with making sense of what is being talked about than with the literal meaning of the words themselves.’
      • ‘Art is precisely the means by which man makes sense of, and transcends, his own limitations and flaws.’
      • ‘Seeing my chance, I spoke up, trying to make some sense of the situation and defend myself.’
      • ‘I was trying to make some sense of the situation… then, eventually, I came round.’
      understand, comprehend, work out, fathom out, make sense of, grasp, catch, follow, perceive, make out, penetrate, divine, search out, ferret out, puzzle out, take in, assimilate, absorb, get to the bottom of
      View synonyms
  • out of one's senses

    • In or into a state of madness.

      • ‘You might frighten her out of her senses, if it came to a struggle between you two men.’
      • ‘‘It's enough to drive a man out of his senses, all this waiting,’ remarked Jim, attempting to bring some normality to the situation.’
      • ‘He was often dazed and drifted out of his senses while staring emptily into nothingness.’
      • ‘The child I was back then was shocked out of my senses, only starring disbelievingly at her half opened gaze.’
  • take leave of one's senses

    • (in hyperbolic use) go mad:

      ‘she began to beat her chest as though she had taken leave of her senses’
      • ‘So, from now until Christmas Day, this column will address the delicate subject of how to cook and entertain your way through the festive season without taking leave of your senses.’
      • ‘Or was it the telecom bosses and their financiers who took leave of their senses?’
      • ‘But five months ago, the Washington Post editors completely took leave of their senses.’
      • ‘He is old and senile, and sometimes takes leave of his senses.’
      • ‘She truly does take leave of her senses where her Earl is concerned.’
      become insane, lose one's reason, lose one's mind, take leave of one's senses, go off one's head, go crazy
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English (as a noun in the sense ‘meaning’): from Latin sensus faculty of feeling, thought, meaning, from sentire feel. The verb dates from the mid 16th century.

Pronunciation:

sense

/sɛns/