Etymology
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sense (n.)

c. 1400, "faculty of perception," also "meaning, import, interpretation" (especially of Holy Scripture), 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," probably a figurative use of a literally meaning "to find one's way," or "to go mentally," from 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"). Application to any one of the external or outward senses (touch, sight, hearing, etc.) in English first recorded 1520s.

A certain negro tribe has a special word for "see;" but only one general word for "hear," "touch," "smell," and "taste." It matters little through which sense I realize that in the dark I have blundered into a pig-sty. In French "sentir" means to smell, to touch, and to feel, all together. [Erich M. von Hornbostel, "Die Einheit der Sinne" ("The Unity of the Senses"), 1927]

Meaning "that which is wise" is from c. 1600. Meaning "capacity for perception and appreciation" is from c. 1600 (as in sense of humor, attested by 1783, sense of shame, 1640s).

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sense (v.)
"to perceive by the senses," 1590s, from sense (n.). Meaning "be conscious inwardly of (one's state or condition) is from 1680s. Meaning "perceive (a fact or situation) not by direct perception" is from 1872. Related: Sensed; sensing.
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senses (n.)
"mental faculties, conscious cognitive powers, sanity," 1560s, from sense (n.). Meaning "faculties of physical sensation" is from 1590s.
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senseless (adj.)
1550s, "without sensation," from sense (n.) + -less. Of actions, etc., "devoid of purpose, proceeding from lack of intelligence," it is attested from 1570s. Related: Senselessly; senselessness.
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sensory (adj.)
1749, "pertaining to sense or sensation," from Latin sensorius, from sensus, past participle of sentire "to perceive, feel" (see sense (n.)).
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sensate (adj.)
c. 1500, from Late Latin sensatus "gifted with sense," from sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning" (see sense (n.)). From 1937 in sociology. As a verb from 1650s.
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sentient (adj.)
1630s, "capable of feeling," from Latin sentientem (nominative sentiens) "feeling," present participle of sentire "to feel" (see sense (n.)). Meaning "conscious" (of something) is from 1815.
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sensorium (n.)
"seat of the soul" in the brain, 1640s, from Late Latin sensorium, from sens-, past participle stem of sentire "to feel" (see sense (n.)) + -orium (see -ory).
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insense (v.)
"teach, instruct, cause (someone) to understand," c. 1400, ensense, from Old French ensenser "to enlighten, to bring to sense," from en- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + sens (see sense (n.)). "From 17th c. app. only dialectal (chiefly northern), or in writers under dialectal influence" [OED].
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nonsense (n.)

"that which is lacking in sense, language or words without meaning or conveying absurd or ridiculous ideas," 1610s, from non- "not" + sense (n.); perhaps influenced by French nonsens. Since mid-20c., non-sense, with the hyphen, has been used to distinguish the meaning "that which is not sense, that which is different from sense," not implying absurdity.

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