Share this entry

sense Syllabification: sense

Definition of sense in English:


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 that enables it to hunt at dusk
More example sentences
  • Sensory evaluation is analysis of product attributes perceived by the human senses of smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.
  • The wall will include different pieces of artwork to stimulate various senses including touch, smell, sight and sound.
  • It is through our senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch - that we perceive the world around us.
sensory faculty, feeling, sensation, perception;
sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell
2A feeling that something is the case: she had the sense of being a political outsider
More example sentences
  • It suggests a sense of urgency and excitement, as do some of the hand-written articles in here.
  • But mention the impending transfer deadline and the banalities are overwhelmed by his sense of urgency.
  • There's a sense of urgency on every single point, on every shot, and it's an incredible challenge.
feeling, awareness, sensation, consciousness, recognition
2.1An awareness or feeling that one is in a specified state: you can improve your general health and sense of well-being
More example sentences
  • There is no empathy between them and there is no sense whatsoever of spatial awareness.
  • Few things strike closer to a person's sense of well-being than how much he or she earns.
  • There are very few who do not feel benefit either on a physical or on an emotional level, with a general overall sense of well-being.
2.2 (sense of) A keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something: she had a fine sense of comic timing
More example sentences
  • She has stage presence and a keen sense of the absurd, particularly in the political realm.
  • I therefore approach this case with a keen sense of its importance.
  • We are looking for a reporter with a keen news sense and a strong awareness of the issues of importance to our readers.
appreciation, awareness, understanding, comprehension, discernment
informal nose
3A sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems: he earned respect by the good sense he showed at meetings
More example sentences
  • The journalist claimed he was treated bluntly and said the staff attitude made no business sense and he could have been making a booking.
  • They keep insisting every now and then that saner sense prevails, after all.
  • I mean it would make as much sense, and realistically is a feeling I'm more familiar with.
3.1A reasonable or comprehensible rationale: I can’t see the sense in leaving all the work to you
More example sentences
  • If we suffer for no reason, if we can find no sense, no reason to our suffering, it makes us crazy.
  • If the reasons make no sense and are without foundation then I should so rule.
  • Ethical living is promoted not because it makes rational sense, but because it offers a guide for personal behaviour.
purpose, point, reason, object, motive;
use, value, advantage, benefit
4A way in which an expression or a situation can be interpreted; a meaning: it is not clear which sense of the wordcharacters” is intended in this passage
More example sentences
  • So many people today, not least those who blog, claim to be cynics, yet are not, in the strictest sense of the word.
  • By default, the relation is one of possession, in the strict sense of the word.
  • We were in over our heads - in both senses of the expression.
5chiefly Mathematics & Physics A property, e.g., direction of motion, distinguishing a pair of objects, quantities, effects, etc., that differ only in that each is the reverse of the other.
5.1 [as modifier] Genetics Relating to or denoting a coding sequence of nucleotides, complementary to an antisense sequence.
Example sentences
  • Polar mutations change a sense codon for a specific amino acid within a gene into a nonsense or translational termination codon.


[with object] Back to top  
1Perceive by a sense or senses: with the first frost, they could sense a change in the days
More example sentences
  • 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 sensed him observing her, again just as he always did.
discern, feel, observe, notice, recognize, pick up (on), be aware of, distinguish, make out, identify;
comprehend, apprehend, see, appreciate, realize;
suspect, have a funny feeling about, have a hunch about, divine, intuit
informal catch on to
1.1Be aware of: she could sense her father’s anger rising
More example sentences
  • Her father sensed her fear and discomfort and drew her to one side.
  • His father must have sensed it too, because he pulled away and turned around and left, pretty quickly.
  • Growing up in a bad neighborhood in Chicago had made Randy able to sense certain things.
1.2 [with clause] Be aware that something is the case without being able to define exactly how one knows: he could sense that he wasn’t liked
More example sentences
  • It seemed to be able to sense when I was feeling vulnerable and alone, and it seemed to prey on me then.
  • It is only after the king senses or is aware of his status that a linear process sets in.
  • The only explanation is that he was somehow able to sense that I was the kind of man who would throw himself out of a plane.
1.3(Of a machine or similar device) detect: an optical fiber senses a current flowing in a conductor
More example sentences
  • The device can also be configured to provide different audible sounds for different movements that are sensed by the device.
  • The study by Goodman et al is an example of a study using an objective technique for measuring inhaler skills, a computer sensing device.
  • Modern sensing devices detect objects or terrain disturbances even though they are well camouflaged.


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.


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

Restore someone to (or regain) consciousness.
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.1Cause someone to (or start to) think and behave reasonably after a period of folly or irrationality.
Example sentences
  • There is no reason to believe that they have come to their senses.
  • I will go this time, if he does not come to his senses I shall deal with him.
  • Will we, as a people, come to our senses and restore the only REAL money there is?

in a (or one) sense

Used to indicate a particular interpretation of a statement or situation: in a sense, behavior cannot develop independently of the environment
More example sentences
  • But that general statement of principle is in one sense no help.
  • It's amusing in one sense that you have to sing in English to become accepted.
  • 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.

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?
More example sentences
  • But it did rain a couple of times, and he has arthritis, nobody in their senses would expect him to work in the wet.
  • 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.
Example sentences
  • That makes no sense in some situations, such as when a PI requires information to trace a missing person.
  • The problem is that the narrative makes no sense on a realistic level.
  • This of course makes medical sense but the situation appears to be less manageable as the weeks go by.

make sense of

Find meaning or coherence in: she must try to make sense of what was going on
More example sentences
  • 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.

out of one's senses

In or into a state of insanity.
Example sentences
  • The child I was back then was shocked out of my senses, only starring disbelievingly at her half opened gaze.
  • ‘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.

take leave of one's senses

(In hyperbolic use) go insane.
Example sentences
  • But five months ago, the Washington Post editors completely took leave of their senses.
  • Or was it the telecom bosses and their financiers who took leave of their 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.

Words that rhyme with sense

cense, commence, common sense, condense, dense, dispense, expense, fence, hence, Hortense, immense, offence (US offense), pence, prepense, pretence (US pretense), spence, suspense, tense, thence, whence

Definition of sense in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...