late 14c., "meaning, signification, interpretation" (especially of Holy Scripture); c. 1400, "the faculty of perception;" from Old French sens "one of the five senses; meaning; wit, understanding" (12c.) and directly from Latin sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning," from sentire "perceive, feel, know."
This probably is a figurative use of a literal meaning "find one's way," or "go mentally." According to Watkins and others, this is from a PIE root *sent- "to go" (source also of 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").
The application to any one of the external or outward senses (touch, sight, hearing, any special faculty of sensation connected with a bodily organ) in English is recorded from 1520s. They usually are reckoned as five; sometimes a "muscular sense" and "inner (common) sense" are added (perhaps to make the perfect seven), hence the old phrase the seven senses, sometimes meaning "consciousness in its totality." For the meaning "consciousness, mind generally," see senses.
The meaning "that which is wise, judicious, sensible, or intelligent" is from c. 1600. The meaning "capacity for perception and appreciation" also is from c. 1600 (as in sense of humor, attested by 1783, sense of shame, 1640s). The meaning "a vague consciousness or feeling" is from 1590s.
1590s, "perceive (an object) by the senses," from sense (n.). The meaning "be conscious inwardly of" (one's state or condition) is from 1680s. The sense of "perceive or understand (a fact or situation) not by direct perception" is from 1872. Related: Sensed; sensing.
late 14c., originally an internal mental power supposed to unite (reduce to a common perception) the impressions conveyed by the five physical senses (Latin sensus communis, Greek koine aisthesis). Thus "ordinary understanding, without which one is foolish or insane" (1530s); the meaning "good sense" is from 1726. Also, as an adjective, common-sense "characterized by common sense" (1854).
"one's mental faculties, conscious cognitive powers, sanity," 1560s, from sense (n.). The meaning "faculties of physical sensation" is from 1590s.
"of or pertaining to sense or sensation, conveying sensation," 1749, from Latin sensorius, from sensus, past participle of sentire "to perceive, feel" (see sense (n.)).
mid-15c., sensat, "endowed with sense; capable of sensation," from Late Latin sensatus "gifted with sense," from sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning" (see sense (n.)). By 1847 as "perceived by the senses." From 1937 in sociology.
1550s, of persons or their bodies, "without sensation, incapable of feeling," from sense (n.) + -less. By 1580s as "in a state of unconsciousness." Of actions, words, etc., "devoid of purpose, proceeding from lack of intelligence," also "without meaning, contrary to reason or sound judgment" (the senses usually are indistinguishable), it is attested by 1570s. Related: Senselessly; senselessness. There was a senseful "full of meaning; perceptive, aware" (1590s) but it seems not to have been wanted and is obsolete.