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f. L. consci-us knowing something with others, knowing in oneself, privy to, conscious + -OUS. L. consci-us f. con- together + sci- knowing, as in scire to know: cf. nescius unknowing, præscius foreknowing. There is no such word in F., which uses conscient in some of the senses (as did also Bacon); but It. has conscio privy, accessary, guilty, from 16th c.]


  • 1. Knowing, or sharing the knowledge of anything, together with another; privy to anything with another.
  • 2. fig. Attributed to inanimate things as privy to, sharing in, or witnesses of human actions or secrets. Chiefly poet. (The earliest recorded use - the word being one of those ridiculed by Ben Jonson. Frequent in the Latin poets: with 1667, cf. Ovid ‘quorum non conscia sola est’.)
  • 3. conscious to oneself (of anything, that, etc.): having the witness of one's own judgement or feelings, having the witness within oneself, knowing within oneself, inwardly sensible or aware. [L. conscius sibi alicujus rei, de aliqua re, id esse.]
  • 4. a. Hence, in same sense, without to oneself.
b. Having guilty knowledge (of anything); absol. inwardly sensible of wrong-doing, guilty.
  • 5. conscious to (a thing): sharing in the knowledge of, having cognizance of, being a witness to; mentally alive or awake to; in a bad sense, privy to. [L. conscius alicui rei.] Obs.
  • 6. Having internal perception or consciousness: a. of a fact.
b. (in Philos.) of one's sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.
c. of external objects. poet.
d. with subord. clause.
e. absol. Knowing, witting, well aware. poet.
f. absol. with the: the conscious mind.
b. Having one's mental faculties actually in an active and waking state.
  • 8. Aware of what one is doing or intending to do; having a purpose and intention in one's actions. Said of agents and their actions, etc.
  • 9. Having one's thoughts and attention unduly centred in one's own personality; and hence, apt to imagine that one is the object of observation by others; SELF-CONSCIOUS. Of personal bearing, actions, etc.: Displaying such preoccupation.
  • 10. transf. Of things:
a. Objective or present to consciousness; known to oneself, felt, sensible.
b. Aware of itself, aware of its own existence.
  • 11. Having a conscience; conscientious. rare.
  • 12. Appended to ns. forming adjs. with the sense ‘conscious of{em}, aware of{em}’; as CLASS-CONSCIOUS, COLOUR-CONSCIOUS, etc.

See also