sensual

sensual
sensual, sensuous
1. Sensual is the older word (15c), and originally described feelings that involved the senses as distinct from the intellect. As it became more closely associated with aspects of physical indulgence characterized by the expression sensual pleasure (principally sexual but also to do with food), sensuous came into use (first apparently by Milton in 1641) to take over the meanings that sensual had once had in relation to aesthetic rather than carnal sensations.
2. In current usage, this distinction holds good for those who want a rule: (sensual)

• Modigliani appreciated Kisling for what he was, a sweet-natured, high-spirited, sensual young man —J. Rose, 1990

• The Hindu god of love, Kama, is the husband of Rati, the goddess of sensual desire —P. Allardice, 1990

• A good slow, deep, seductive, sensual, sexual kiss can be the very thing that sends someone over the edge in my opinion —weblog, BrE 2005

• (sensuous) All the sensuous elements of the previous years have been banished; colour has been reduced to a severe combination of browns, dull greens and greys —J. Golding, 1988

• The passage exemplifies the distancing effect of simile, and the more sensuous effect of metaphor —E. Black, 1993.

3. But in the hurly-burly of general usage the meanings are too close, and sensuous has begun to go the way of sensual, especially in modern popular fiction:

• He looked forward to this drink, the first of the day, with a sensuous desire —Barbara Vine, 1987

• There was something extremely sensuous about having a man dry her hair, especially this man —A. Murray, 1993.

Although the complex subtleties of sense perception cause meanings to merge into one another, it is prudent to remember the basic distinction when using these words, so that sensuous can retain its full force of meaning in uses that are primarily to do with aesthetics, for example in the context of music or poetry:

• Cesti's great gift was for melody: sensuous and eminently singable —G. Abraham, 1985.


Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • Sensual — Sen su*al, a. [L. sensualis, from sensus sense: cf. F. sensuel.] 1. Pertaining to, consisting in, or affecting, the sense, or bodily organs of perception; relating to, or concerning, the body, in distinction from the spirit. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sensual — adjetivo 1. De las sensaciones: conocimiento sensual. 2. Que tiende a buscar y a satisfacer el deseo de los sentidos: La decoración del apartamento es coqueta y muy sensual. 3. Que despierta los sentidos o el deseo sexual: boca sensual, mirada… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • sensual — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ relating to the physical senses as a source of pleasure, especially sexual pleasure. DERIVATIVES sensualist noun sensuality noun sensually adverb. USAGE Strictly speaking there is a difference between sensual and sensuous. Sensual …   English terms dictionary

  • sensual — [sen′sho͞o əl] adj. [L sensualis < sensus, feeling, SENSE] 1. of the body and the senses as distinguished from the intellect or spirit; bodily [sensual pleasures] 2. a) connected or preoccupied with bodily or sexual pleasures; voluptuous b)… …   English World dictionary

  • sensual — adj. 2 g. 1. Concernente aos sentidos. 2. Voluptuoso. 3. Lúbrico. 4. Libidinoso. • s. 2 g. 5. Pessoa sensual, lasciva.   • Confrontar: censual …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • sensual — 1 *carnal, fleshly, animal Analogous words: *bodily, physical, corporeal, somatic: *coarse, gross, vulgar: lewd, lascivious, lustful, wanton (see LICENTIOUS) 2 *sensuous, luxurious, voluptuous, sybaritic, epicurean …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Sensual — Sensuāl (lat.), sinnlich; Sensualismus, der Hang, nach sinnlichen Antrieben zu handeln, das höchste sinnliche Vergnügen als das höchste Gut zu betrachten; auch der Lehrbegriff der Sensualisten oder Sensualphilosophen, welche die Wahrheit und das… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sensual — Sensual, sensuell, sinnlich; S.ismus, Sinnlichkeit; philosophisches System, s. Empirismus u. Materie; S.ität, Sinnlichkeit, das sinnliche Anschauungsvermögen; sensus, lat., Sinn, Empfindung; sensu bono, latiori, strictiori, strictissimo, im guten …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • sensual — Relativo a un gran interés por el sexo, la comida u otras actividades sensoriales que producen satisfacción. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • sensual — index dissolute, mundane, obscene, physical, salacious Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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