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recognition of difference between right and wrong: His conscience bothered him when he cheated on the test.
Not to be confused with:
conscious – aware; capable of thought or will: a conscious decision; cognizant: She was conscious of the stranger standing close to her.
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


a. An awareness of morality in regard to one's behavior; a sense of right and wrong that urges one to act morally: Let your conscience be your guide.
b. A source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement: a document that serves as the nation's conscience.
c. Conformity to one's own sense of right conduct: a person of unflagging conscience.
2. The part of the superego in psychoanalysis that judges the ethical nature of one's actions and thoughts and then transmits such determinations to the ego for consideration.
3. Obsolete Consciousness or awareness of something.
in (all good) conscience
In all fairness; by any reasonable standard.
on (one's) conscience
Causing one to feel guilty or uneasy.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin cōnscientia, from cōnsciēns, cōnscient-, present participle of cōnscīre, to be conscious of : com-, intensive pref.; see com- + scīre, to know; see skei- in Indo-European roots.]

con′science·less adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Philosophy)
a. the sense of right and wrong that governs a person's thoughts and actions
b. regulation of one's actions in conformity to this sense
c. a supposed universal faculty of moral insight
2. conscientiousness; diligence
3. a feeling of guilt or anxiety: he has a conscience about his unkind action.
4. obsolete consciousness
5. in conscience in all conscience
a. with regard to truth and justice
b. certainly
6. on one's conscience causing feelings of guilt or remorse
[C13: from Old French, from Latin conscientia knowledge, consciousness, from conscīre to know; see conscious]
ˈconscienceless adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈkɒn ʃəns)

1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience.
2. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
3. an inhibiting sense of what is prudent.
4. conscientiousness.
5. Obs. consciousness; self-knowledge.
1. in (all) conscience, in all reason and fairness.
2. on one's conscience, (of a wrongdoing) burdening one with guilt.
[1175–1225; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin conscientia knowledge, awareness, conscience. See con-, science]
con′science•less, adj.
con′science•less•ness, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



See Also: REGRET

  1. A bad conscience is a kind of illness, in the sense that pregnancy is an illness —Friedrich Nietzsche
  2. A clear conscience is like a wall of brass —Latin proverb
  3. Conscience as big as the Alps —Walter Goodman, New York Times movie review, May 27, 1987
  4. Conscience … a terrifying little sprite, that bat-like winks by day and wakes by night —John Wolcott
  5. Conscience is God’s presence in man —Anon
  6. Conscience is like a sun-dial; if you let truth shine upon it, it will put you right —Hamilton Bower

    The author expanded upon the simile as follows: “But you may cover it over so that no truth can fall upon it, or you may let false light gleam upon it and then it will lead you astray.”

  7. (His) conscience rose like a shining light —Honore de Balzac
  8. Conscience wide as hell —William Shakespeare
  9. Gets little attacks of conscience, like hot flashes —Jonathan Valin
  10. Going through life with a conscience is like driving your car with the brakes on —Budd Schulberg
  11. A healthy conscience is like a wall of bronze —Erasmus
  12. He that has a scrupulous conscience, is like a horse that is not well wayed [well-taught]; he starts at every bird that flies out of the hedge —John Selden

    The word ‘hath’ from the original simile has been modernized to ‘has.’

  13. The sting of conscience, like the gnawing of a dog at a bone, is mere foolishness —Friedrich Nietzsche
  14. Weather-beaten conscience … as elastic as his heart —Arthur Train
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. 'conscious'

Conscious is an adjective. If you are conscious of something, you are aware of it.

She became conscious of Rudolph looking at her.
I was conscious that he had changed his tactics.

If you are conscious, you are awake, rather than asleep or unconscious.

The patient was fully conscious during the operation.
2. 'consciousness'

Consciousness is a noun. You can refer to your mind and thoughts as your consciousness.

Doubts were starting to enter into my consciousness.

If you lose consciousness, you become unconscious. If you regain consciousness or recover consciousness, you become conscious again after being unconscious. These are fairly formal expressions.

He fell down and lost consciousness.
He began to regain consciousness just as Kate was leaving.
She died in hospital without recovering consciousness.

In more informal English you can say that you pass out instead of 'lose consciousness', and come round instead of 'regain/recover consciousness'.

He felt sick and dizzy, then passed out.
When I came round, I was on the kitchen floor.
3. 'conscience'

Conscience is a noun. Your conscience is the part of your mind that tells you whether what you are doing is right or wrong.

My conscience told me to vote against the others.
Their consciences were troubled by stories of famine and war.
4. 'conscientious'

Conscientious is an adjective. Someone who is conscientious is very careful to do their work properly.

We are generally very conscientious about our work.
She seemed a conscientious, serious young woman.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.conscience - motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actionsconscience - motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actions
superego - (psychoanalysis) that part of the unconscious mind that acts as a conscience
ethical motive, ethics, morals, morality - motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
small voice, voice of conscience, wee small voice - an inner voice that judges your behavior
sense of duty, sense of shame - a motivating awareness of ethical responsibility
2.conscience - conformity to one's own sense of right conduct; "a person of unflagging conscience"
morality - concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct
conscientiousness - the quality of being in accord with the dictates of conscience
unconscientiousness - the quality of being willing to ignore the dictates of conscience
3.conscience - a feeling of shame when you do something immoral; "he has no conscience about his cruelty"
shame - a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. principles, scruples, moral sense, sense of right and wrong, still small voice I have battled with my conscience over whether I should send this letter or not.
2. guilt, shame, regret, remorse, contrition, self-reproach, self-condemnation She was suffering terrible pangs of conscience about what she had done.
in all conscience in fairness, rightly, certainly, fairly, truly, honestly, in truth, assuredly She could not, in all conscience, back out on her deal with him.
"Conscience: the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking" [H.L. Mencken A Little Book in C Major]
"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all" [William Shakespeare Hamlet]
"Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it" [Samuel Butler]
"A guilty conscience needs no accuser"
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


A sense of propriety or rightness:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
vestčista vest
lương tâm


A. Nconciencia f
in all conscienceen conciencia
bad consciencemala conciencia
to have a clear consciencetener la conciencia tranquila or limpia
I have a clear conscience about ittengo la conciencia tranquila or limpia al respecto
with a clear consciencecon la conciencia tranquila or limpia
I have a guilty conscience (about it)me remuerde la conciencia (por ello)
I could not in conscience say thaten conciencia no podría decir eso
the conscience of the nationla voz de la conciencia del país
to have sth on one's consciencetener algo pesando sobre la conciencia, tener cargo or remordimiento de conciencia por algo
I have it on my conscienceme está remordiendo la conciencia por ello
social conscienceconciencia f social
a doctor with a social conscienceun médico socialmente concienciado or con conciencia social
B. CPD conscience money N dinero que se paga para descargar la conciencia
conscience raising N = consciousness raising
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈkɒnʃəns] nconscience f
to have a guilty conscience → avoir mauvaise conscience
to have a clear conscience → avoir la conscience tranquille, avoir bonne conscience
in all conscience, in conscience → en conscience
to have sth on one's conscience → avoir qch sur la conscience
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nGewissen nt; to have a clear/easy/bad/guilty conscienceein reines/gutes/schlechtes/böses Gewissen haben (about wegen); doesn’t telling lies give you a guilty conscience?haben Sie keine Gewissensbisse or kein schlechtes Gewissen, wenn Sie lügen?; with an easy consciencemit ruhigem Gewissen, ruhigen Gewissens (geh); he has no conscience about lyinger macht sich (dat)kein Gewissen daraus, zu lügen; it/he will be on your conscience all your lifeSie werden das/ihn Ihr Leben lang auf dem Gewissen haben; she/it is on my conscienceich habe ihretwegen/deswegen Gewissensbisse; it’s still on my conscience (= I still haven’t done it)es steht mir noch bevor; my conscience won’t let me do itdas kann ich mit meinem Gewissen nicht vereinbaren; in (all) conscienceallen Ernstes; I can’t in all conscienceich kann unmöglich; let your conscience be your guide!hör auf dein Gewissen; it’s between you and your consciencedas musst du mit dir selbst or mit deinem Gewissen abmachen


conscience clause
n (Jur) → ˜ Gewissensklausel f
conscience money
n his donation looks like consciencemit der Spende will er wohl sein Gewissen beruhigen
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈkɒnʃns] ncoscienza
with a clear conscience → con la coscienza pulita or a posto
to have sth on one's conscience → avere qc sulla coscienza
in all conscience → onestamente, in coscienza
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈkonʃəns) noun
(that part of one's mind which holds one's) knowledge or sense of right and wrong. The injured man was on her conscience because she was responsible for the accident; She had a guilty conscience about the injured man; He had no conscience about dismissing the men.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


ضَمِير svědomí samvittighed Gewissen συνείδηση conciencia omatunto conscience savjest coscienza 良心 양심 geweten samvittighet sumienie consciência совесть samvete ความรู้สึกผิดชอบชั่วดี vicdan lương tâm 良心
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n conciencia; guilty — cargo de conciencia, conciencia culpable
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Lord Dawlish, if he had been able to diagnose correctly the almost paternal attitude which had become his host's normal manner these days, would have been equally embarrassed but less startled, for conscience had already suggested to him from time to time that he had been guilty of a feeling toward Elizabeth warmer than any feeling that should come to an engaged man.
But Soothness pricked on his palfrey and passed them all and came to the King's court, where he told Conscience all about the matter, and Conscience told the King.
And the discussion of a knotty point in the court of conscience.
And this is the Hungry Tiger, the terror of the jungle, who longs to devour fat babies but is prevented by his conscience from doing so.
Nor with such a man could you expect the appeal to conscience to be effective.
Know, monseigneur, that in all that relates to my intimate feelings I render account only to God and to my conscience," she concluded, laying her hand on her beautiful, fully expanded bosom and looking up to heaven.
"Well, a man who gets rich by that trade may be all very well in some ways, but he is blind as to what workingmen want; I could not in my conscience send him up to make the laws.
Yes, the conscience is clear and the song is clear, and so these little streams flow on, shining in the clear dawn of a golden past to which all poets and philosophers to come will turn with wistful eyes.
"Cousin Hepzibah," said the Judge, with an impressive earnestness of manner, which grew even to tearful pathos as he proceeded, "is it possible that you do not perceive how unjust, how unkind, how unchristian, is this constant, this long-continued bitterness against me, for a part which I was constrained by duty and conscience, by the force of law, and at my own peril, to act?
And I have a tender conscience, and a cultivated mind.
My conscience would never be easy if I kept silent on the subject."
The pious atmosphere of the vicarage and the religious tone of the school had made Philip's conscience very sensitive; he absorbed insensibly the feeling about him that the Tempter was ever on the watch to gain his immortal soul; and though he was not more truthful than most boys he never told a lie without suffering from remorse.