Definition of conscience noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈkɒnʃəns//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkɑːnʃəns//
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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] the part of your mind that tells you whether your actions are right or wrong to have a clear/guilty conscience (= to feel that you have done right/wrong) This is a matter of individual conscience (= everyone must make their own judgement about it). He won't let it trouble his conscience. see also social conscience
  2. 2[uncountable, countable] a guilty feeling about something you have done or failed to do She was seized by a sudden pang of conscience. I have a terrible conscience about it.
  3. 3[uncountable] the fact of behaving in a way that you feel is right even though this may cause problems freedom of conscience (= the freedom to do what you believe to be right) Emilia is the voice of conscience in the play. see also prisoner of conscience
  4. Word OriginMiddle English (also in the sense ‘inner thoughts or knowledge’): via Old French from Latin conscientia, from conscient- ‘being privy to’, from the verb conscire, from con- ‘with’ + scire ‘know’.Extra examples After the meal she spent a week dieting to salve her conscience. At the end of each day, examine your conscience. Best came forward because of an attack of conscience. He felt his conscience telling him to apologize. He had no conscience about taking his brother’s money. He wrestled with his conscience all night long. Her conscience pricked her every time she thought of how cruel she had been to Kirby. Her conscience was bothering her a little. His decision appears to have been an act of conscience. How can you do your job with a clean conscience? How could people of conscience allow this to happen? I had a sudden pang of conscience that I really ought to tell the truth. I have a clear conscience. I have only ever followed my conscience. I never knew a more tender conscience on every point of duty. I’m sure she has something on her conscience. It should be a matter of individual conscience. It was on his conscience that he hadn’t called her. It’s important to let your conscience guide your decisions. My conscience dictates that I resign. She refused to listen to the voice of conscience. This question is a matter of individual conscience. To clear my conscience and make it up to you, I’d like to take you out to dinner. We assuaged our conscience by telling ourselves that they would be worse off without us. a bill which has shocked the conscience of every middle-class community a dying man with a guilty conscience a government with no social conscience a seminal conference on religious conscience and poverty consumers with an environmental conscience individual rights and rights of conscience on our campuses of higher education the collective conscience of American businessIdioms
    in (all/good) conscience
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    (formal) believing your actions to be fair synonym honestly We cannot in all conscience refuse to help.
    making you feel guilty for doing or failing to do something I'll write and apologize. I've had it on my conscience for weeks. It’s still on my conscience that I didn’t warn him in time.
    prick your conscience, your conscience pricks you
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    to make you feel guilty about something; to feel guilty about something Her conscience pricked her as she lied to her sister.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: conscience