Making Sense out of the Word

The Sense Card at
The Sense Card at

We often use the term sense to mean that we have a feeling or a premonition. We have a “sense of foreboding” or a “sense of importance” for a moment. We also use the word to mean an abstract idea or understanding as in, “he had a sense of honor” or “he had no sense of mercy.” Doesn’t it seem odd that a word which we usually use to denote the physical or rational (the 5 senses or “making sense”) can also be used in such a nebulous way?

Is it odd, though? Sense, in all the usages listed here, has a common root- the idea that exterior forces or events have made some sort of impression on us. Sense is a word that we use when we want to affirm some sort of connection, some level of understanding, even if it is just the mood of a room or the tone of a book.

To bog the word down with one, stilted, physical meaning we are cheating it and ourselves our of it’s proper usage- A collection of data conveying a conclusion.

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