(noun) conformity to one’s own sense of right conduct; “a person of unflagging conscience”
(noun) a feeling of shame when you do something immoral; “he has no conscience about his cruelty”
conscience, scruples, moral sense, sense of right and wrong
(noun) motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person’s thoughts and actions
Source: WordNet® 3.1
conscience (countable and uncountable, plural consciences)
The moral sense of right and wrong, chiefly as it affects one's own behaviour.
(chiefly fiction, narratology) A personification of the moral sense of right and wrong, usually in the form of a person, a being or merely a voice that gives moral lessons and advices.
(obsolete) Consciousness; thinking; awareness, especially self-awareness.
• Adjectives often used with "conscience": good, bad, guilty. A good conscience is one free from guilt, a bad conscience the opposite.
• Phrases: for reasons of conscience, to make conscience of, to make a matter of conscience, to act according to the dictates of conscience concerning (any matter), or to scruple to act contrary to its dictates.
Con"science, n. Etym: [F. conscience, fr. L. conscientia, fr.
consciens, p.pr. of conscire to know, to be conscious; con- + scire
to know. See Science.]
1. Knowledge of one's own thoughts or actions; consciousness. [Obs.]
The sweetest cordial we receive, at last, Is conscience of our
virtuous actions past. Denham.
2. The faculty, power, or inward principle which decides as to the
character of one's own actions, purposes, and affections, warning
against and condemning that which is wrong, and approving and
prompting to that which is right; the moral faculty passing judgment
on one's self; the moral sense.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue
brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain.
As science means knowledge, conscience etymologically means self-
knowledge . . . But the English word implies a moral standard of
action in the mind as well as a consciousness of our own actions. . .
. Conscience is the reason, employed about questions of right and
wrong, and accompanied with the sentiments of approbation and
3. The estimate or determination of conscience; conviction or right
Conscience supposes the existence of some such [i.e., moral] faculty,
and properly signifies our consciousness of having acted agreeably or
contrary to its directions. Adam Smith.
4. Tenderness of feeling; pity. [Obs.] Chaucer. Conscience clause, a
clause in a general law exempting persons whose religious scruples
forbid compliance therewith, -- as from taking judicial oaths,
rendering military service, etc.
– Conscience money, stolen or wrongfully acquired money that is
voluntarily restored to the rightful possessor. Such money paid into
the United States treasury by unknown debtors is called the
– Court of Conscience, a court established for the recovery of
small debts, in London and other trading cities and districts. [Eng.]
– In conscience, In all conscience, in deference or obedience to
conscience or reason; in reason; reasonably. "This is enough in
conscience." Howell. "Half a dozen fools are, in all conscience, as
many as you should require." Swift.
– To make conscience of, To make a matter of conscience, to act
according to the dictates of conscience concerning (any matter), or
to scruple to act contrary to its dictates.
Source: Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 1913 Edition