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[kon-shuh ns] /ˈkɒn ʃəns/
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.
the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.
Obsolete. strict and reverential observance.
have something on one's conscience, to feel guilty about something, as an act that one considers wrong:
She behaves as if she had something on her conscience.
in all conscience,
  1. in all reason and fairness.
  2. certainly; assuredly.
Also, in conscience.
Origin of conscience
1175-1225; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin conscientia knowledge, awareness, conscience. See con-, science
Related forms
conscienceless, adjective
consciencelessly, adverb
consciencelessness, noun
subconscience, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for conscienceless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But conscienceless trickeries they were, and, as such, singular grounds for historical enthusiasm.

    The Evolution of States J. M. Robertson
  • The village life abounds with jokers, Shiftless, conscienceless and shrewd.

    Prairie Folks Hamlin Garland
  • Than an unprotected man with a conscienceless flirt, who falls on his neck and then threatens to submerge him in tears.

    The Unspeakable Perk Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • We should, they say, pardon the conscienceless and obstinate.

    Zones of the Spirit August Strindberg
  • Germany in one brief month has given us a wonderful exhibition of conscienceless strength, of disciplined ferocity.

  • This Fox was one of the most conscienceless wretches and desperadoes that ever lived.

    The Life of Kit Carson Edward S. Ellis
  • They are not conscienceless because they do nothing worth while; they do nothing worth while because they are conscienceless.

    Criminal Psychology Hans Gross
  • It's an outrage, and no one but a vile, conscienceless woman would do it.

    The "Genius" Theodore Dreiser
British Dictionary definitions for conscienceless


  1. the sense of right and wrong that governs a person's thoughts and actions
  2. regulation of one's actions in conformity to this sense
  3. a supposed universal faculty of moral insight
conscientiousness; diligence
a feeling of guilt or anxiety: he has a conscience about his unkind action
(obsolete) consciousness
in conscience, in all conscience
  1. with regard to truth and justice
  2. certainly
on one's conscience, causing feelings of guilt or remorse
Derived Forms
conscienceless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Latin conscientia knowledge, consciousness, from conscīre to know; see conscious
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for conscienceless



early 13c., from Old French conscience "conscience, innermost thoughts, desires, intentions; feelings" (12c.), from Latin conscientia "knowledge within oneself, sense of right, a moral sense," from conscientem (nominative consciens), present participle of conscire "be (mutually) aware," from com- "with," or "thoroughly" (see com-) + scire "to know" (see science).

Probably a loan-translation of Greek syneidesis, literally "with-knowledge." Sometimes nativized in Old English/Middle English as inwit. Russian also uses a loan-translation, so-vest, "conscience," literally "with-knowledge."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conscienceless in Medicine

conscience con·science (kŏn'shəns)

  1. The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one's conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong.

  2. The part of the superego that judges the ethical nature of one's actions and thoughts and then transmits such determinations to the ego for consideration.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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conscienceless in the Bible

that faculty of the mind, or inborn sense of right and wrong, by which we judge of the moral character of human conduct. It is common to all men. Like all our other faculties, it has been perverted by the Fall (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Rom. 2:15). It is spoken of as "defiled" (Titus 1:15), and "seared" (1 Tim. 4:2). A "conscience void of offence" is to be sought and cultivated (Acts 24:16; Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12; 1 Tim. 1:5, 19; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with conscienceless
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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