Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French sen, sens sensation, feeling, mechanism of perception, meaning, from Latin sensus, from sentire to perceive, feel; perhaps akin to Old High German sinnan to go, strive, Old English sith journey — more at send
Date: 14th century
1. a meaning conveyed or intended ; import, signification; especially one of a set of meanings a word or phrase may bear especially as segregated in a dictionary entry
a. the faculty of perceiving by means of sense organs
b. a specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal receives and responds to external or internal stimuli
c. the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions (as movement or thought)
3. conscious awareness or rationality — usually used in plural <finally came to his senses> 4. a. a particular sensation or kind or quality of sensation <a good sense of balance> b. a definite but often vague awareness or impression <felt a sense of insecurity> <a sense of danger> c. a motivating awareness <a sense of shame> d. a discerning awareness and appreciation <her sense of humor> 5. consensus <the sense of the meeting> 6. a. capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response ; intelligence b. sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality; also agreement with or satisfaction of such power <this decision makes sense> 7. one of two opposite directions especially of motion (as of a point, line, or surface) Synonyms: sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence <a choice showing good sense>. common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge <common sense tells me it's wrong>. judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity <they relied on her judgment for guidance>. wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average <a leader of rare wisdom>. II. transitive verb (sensed; sensing) Date: circa 1531 1. a. to perceive by the senses b. to be or become conscious of <sense danger> 2. grasp, comprehend 3. to detect automatically especially in response to a physical stimulus (as light or movement)
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.