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[sen-shoo-uh l] /ˈsɛn ʃu əl/
pertaining to, inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal; fleshly.
lacking in moral restraints; lewd or unchaste.
arousing or exciting the senses or appetites.
worldly; materialistic; irreligious.
of or relating to the senses or physical sensation; sensory.
pertaining to the philosophical doctrine of sensationalism.
Origin of sensual
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin sēnsuālis, equivalent to sēnsu-, stem of sēnsus sense + -ālis -al1
Related forms
sensually, adverb
hypersensual, adjective
hypersensually, adverb
hypersensualness, noun
nonsensual, adjective
nonsensually, adverb
subsensual, adjective
subsensually, adverb
transsensual, adjective
transsensually, adverb
unsensual, adjective
unsensually, adverb
Can be confused
sensual, sensuous (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. Sensual, sensuous, voluptuous refer to experience through the senses. Sensual refers, often unfavorably, to the enjoyments derived from the senses, especially from the gratification or indulgence of physical appetites: a sensual delight in eating; sensual excesses. Sensuous refers, favorably or literally, to what is experienced through the senses: sensuous impressions; sensuous poetry. Voluptuous implies the luxurious gratification of sensuous or sensual desires: voluptuous joys; voluptuous beauty. See also carnal. 2. lascivious. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sensually
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The humor of it came home to her—that she should sensually feel the cold.

    Ewing\'s Lady Harry Leon Wilson
  • She loved me intellectually and sensually, but not with the soul.

    An Anarchist Woman Hutchins Hapgood
  • For a moment the thought of her flung across the bed and weeping stirred him sensually.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht
  • It was as if her hands, sensually understanding, were reaching voluptuously for his heart.

    Narcissus Evelyn Scott
  • A twentieth confessed to have begun to love boys of his own age, sensually, while only eight years of age.

    A Problem in Modern Ethics John Addington Symonds
  • They're utilizing virtue as a cloak for the sensually tantalizing discussion of immorality.

    Gargoyles Ben Hecht
  • He was even worse than that: wicked, brutal, sensually cruel.

  • Let the time of your sleep be rationally fitted to your health and labour, and not sensually to your slothful pleasure.

  • Nature they read spiritually or sensually, always shrinkingly apart from him.

British Dictionary definitions for sensually


of or relating to any of the senses or sense organs; bodily
strongly or unduly inclined to gratification of the senses
tending to arouse the bodily appetites, esp the sexual appetite
of or relating to sensualism
Derived Forms
sensually, adverb
sensualness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin sensuālis, from Latin sēnsussense. Compare French sensuel, Italian sensuale
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 sensually



early 15c., "carnal, unspiritual;" mid-15c., "of or pertaining to the senses," from Middle French sensuel (15c.) and directly from Late Latin sensualis "endowed with feeling" (see sensuality). Meaning "connected with gratification of the senses," especially "lewd, unchaste" is attested from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sensually in Medicine

sensual sen·su·al (sěn'shōō-əl)

  1. Relating to or affecting any of the senses or a sense organ; sensory.

  2. Of, relating to, given to, or providing gratification of the physical and especially the sexual appetites.

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