- sense (n.)
- c.1400, "faculty of perception," also "meaning or interpretation" (especially of Holy Scripture), from Old French sens, from Latin sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning," from sentire "perceive, feel, know," probably a figurative use of a literally meaning "to find one's way," from PIE root *sent- "to go" (cf. Old High German sinnan "to go, travel, strive after, have in mind, perceive," German Sinn "sense, mind," Old English sið "way, journey," Old Irish set, Welsh hynt "way"). Application to any one of the external or outward senses (touch, sight, hearing, etc.) first recorded 1520s.
Hornkostel cites a Negro tribe that has a separate word for seeing, but employs a common term for hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. [A.G. Engstrom, "Philological Quarterly," XXV, 1946]
Senses "mental faculties, sanity" is attested from 1560s. Sense of humor attested by 1783.
- sense (v.)
- "to perceive by the senses," 1590s, from sense (n.). Related: Sensed; sensing.