Meaning of “sense” in the English Dictionary

"sense" in English

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uk /sens/ us /sens/

sense noun (ABILITY)

B2 [ C ] an ability to understand, recognize, value, or react to something, especially any of the five physical abilities to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel:

With her excellent sense of smell, she could tell if you were a smoker from the other side of the room.
My cold is so bad I've lost my sense of smell/taste (= I can't smell/taste anything).

B1 [ C or U ] a general feeling or understanding:

Did you get any sense of how they might react?
The helicopters hovering overhead added to the sense of urgency.
sense of fun

the ability to enjoy life and not be too serious:

Don't be angry - it was just a joke - where's your sense of fun?
sense of humour

B1 your ability to understand funny things:

She has a really good sense of humour.
We have the same sense of humour.
Come on, lighten up! Where's your sense of humour?
sense of occasion UK

the feeling people have when there is a very important event or celebration:

The decorations, flowers, and crowds gave the town a real sense of occasion.

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sense noun (GOOD JUDGMENT)

B2 [ U ] the characteristic of having good judgment, especially when it is based on practical ideas or understanding:

[ + to infinitive ] I hope they'll have the (good) sense/have enough sense to shut the windows before they leave.
It makes (good) sense to buy a big pack because it works out cheaper in the end.
[ + -ing verb ] There's no sense in waiting (= it is not practical to wait) - the next train isn't for two hours.
Where's/What's the sense (= what is the advantage) in paying someone when you could get a volunteer?
Planning so far ahead makes no sense - so many things will have changed by next year.
senses [ plural ]

the ability to use good judgment:

Have you taken leave of/lost your senses? (= Have you lost your ability to make a good judgment?)
It's time you came to your senses (= started to use your good judgment) and realized that they are not going to help you.
The accident brought him to his senses (= caused him to use his good judgment again) and made him stop drinking.

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sense noun (MEANING)

B2 [ C ] one of the possible meanings of a word or phrase:

They are not immigrants, at least not in any sense that I understand.
The packaging is green - in both senses of the word (= it is green in colour and it is good for the environment).
Security defined in the broad/broadest sense of the term means getting at the root causes of trouble and helping to reduce regional conflicts.
This passage doesn't make (any) sense (= the meaning is not clear).
I've read the letter twice, but I can't make (any) sense of it (= I can't understand it).
in every sense

in every way or feature:

It's a book which is, in every sense, about different ways of seeing the world.
in a sense C1 also in one sense

thinking about something in one way, but not in every way:

She claims that the system is at fault and she's right, in a sense (= she is partly right).
in no sense

not at all:

We are in no sense obliged to agree to this.

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senseverb [ T ]

uk /sens/ us /sens/

C2 to feel or experience something without being able to explain exactly how:

Although she said nothing, I could sense her anger
He sensed something was about to happen.
[ + (that) ] He sensed (that) his guests were bored, although they were listening politely.
[ + question word ] Could you sense what was likely to happen?

More examples

  • Although they said nothing, she could sense their disapproval of her suggestion.
  • I sensed that she wasn't happy there.
  • She said nothing but I could sense her resentment.
  • I could just sense that something was wrong.
  • I sensed that he had something to tell me.

(Definition of “sense” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sense" in American English

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us /sens/

sense noun (JUDGMENT)

the ability to make reasonable judgments:

[ U ] If the boy had any sense he would be scared.
[ U ] You ought to have more sense than to get involved with him.
[ pl ] Have you taken leave of your senses?

sense noun (BODY POWER)

biology [ C ] any of the five physical abilities to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel

sense noun (AWARENESS)

[ C usually sing ] an awareness of something, or an ability to do or understand something:

I have a very bad sense of direction.

[ C usually sing ] A sense of humor is the ability to understand and enjoy jokes and amusing situations, or to make people laugh:

Matt has a great sense of humor.

sense noun (FEELING)

[ C ] a feeling about something:

They move with a sense of confidence.
Students need some sense of responsibility.

sense noun (MEANING)

English [ C ] a meaning of a word or phrase:

This isn’t a travel book in the usual sense of the word.

senseverb [ T ]

us /sens/

sense verb [ T ] (FEEL)

to feel or be aware of something:

Although she said nothing, I could sense her anger.
I sensed someone was approaching me from behind.

(Definition of “sense” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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