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({sm}k{rfa}n{sh}{schwa}s [f. L. consci-us knowing something with others, knowing in oneself, privy to, conscious + -OUS. L. consci-us f. con- together + sci- knowing, as in sc{imac}re to know: cf. nescius unknowing, pręscius foreknowing. There is no such word in F., which uses conscient in some of the senses (as did also Bacon); but It. has conscio privy, accessary, guilty, from 16th c.] 

    {dag}1. Knowing, or sharing the knowledge of anything, together with another; privy to anything with another. Obs. [With quot. 1651, cf. L. alicui alicujus rei conscius.]


1651 HOBBES Leviath. I. vii. 31 Where two, or more men, know of one and the same fact, they are said to be Conscious of it one to another. 1664 SOUTH Serm. (1823) I. 394 Nothing is to be concealed from the other self. To be a friend and to be conscious are terms equivalent.

    2. fig. Attributed to inanimate things as privy to, sharing in, or witnesses of human actions or secrets. Chiefly poet.
  (The earliest recorded use{em}the word being one of those ridiculed by Ben Jonson. Frequent in the Latin poets: with 1667, cf. Ovid ‘quorum non conscia sola est’.)


1601 B. JONSON Poetaster V. i. Wks. (Rtldg.) 130/1 With oath Magnificates his merit; and bespawls The conscious time with humourous foam. 1643 DENHAM Cooper's H. 277 Thence to the Coverts, and the conscious Groves, The scenes of his past Triumphs and his Loves. 1667 MILTON P.L. VI. 521 So all ere day-spring, under conscious Night, Secret they finish'd. 1722 WOLLASTON Relig. Nat. ix. 202 Examin the prisons of the inquisitions, the groans of which those walls are conscious. 1815 SOUTHEY Roderick xv. 138 If the conscious air had caught the sound. 1856 EMERSON Eng. Traits, Stonehenge Wks. (Bohn) II. 124 To these conscious stones we two pilgrims were alike known and near.

    3. conscious to oneself (of anything, that, etc.): having the witness of one's own judgement or feelings, having the witness within oneself, knowing within oneself, inwardly sensible or aware. [L. conscius sibi alicujus rei, de aliqua re, id esse.]


1620 ABP. USSHER Serm. (1621) 1 Being so conscious vnto my selfe of my great weakenesse. 1625 BACON Ess., Praise (Arb.) 353 Wherin a Man is Conscious [MS. and ed. 1612 conscient] to himselfe, that he is most Defectiue. 1690 LOCKE Hum. Und. II. i, If they say, That a Man is always conscious to himself of thinking. 1722 DE FOE Plague (1754) 43 Their own Medicines, which they must needs be conscious to themselves, were good for nothing. 1779 BURKE Corr. (1844) II. 303 If I were not conscious to myself of having done every thing in my power, to warn the nation.

    4. a. Hence, in same sense, without to oneself.


1632 MASSINGER Maid of Hon. IV. v, A pardon, Sir! Till I am conscious of an offence, I will not wrong my innocence to beg one. 1667 MILTON P.L. II. 429 Satan..with Monarchal pride Conscious of highest worth, unmov'd thus spake. 1677 HALE Prim. Orig. Man. I. ii. 69, I am easily conscious that I have omitted many things. 1751 JOHNSON Rambler No. 155 {page}3 We are secretly conscious of defects and vices which we hope to conceal from the publick eye. 1862 LD. BROUGHAM Brit. Const. App. iii. 448 A proof how conscious they were of their own unfitness. 1848 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. II. 63 He must have been conscious that, though he thought adultery sinful, he was an adulterer.

    {dag}b. Having guilty knowledge (of anything); absol. inwardly sensible of wrong-doing, guilty.


1652 GAULE Magastrom. 374 Pergamius accuses many thousands as conscious of the same arts. 1656 H. MORE Antid. Ath. III. iv. (1712) 97 She being conscious, did of her own accord..make confession of her wickedness. 1658 PHILLIPS, Conscious, inwardly guilty, privy to ones self of any fault or errour. 1738 WESLEY Psalms civ. pt. 3. vi, The conscious Ravagers return. 1827 KEBLE Chr. Y. 4 Lent xi. 4 What time, with sweet forgiving cheer, He called his conscious brethren near.

    {dag}5. conscious to (a thing): sharing in the knowledge of, having cognizance of, being a witness to; mentally alive or awake to; in a bad sense, privy to. [L. conscius alicui rei.] Obs.


1631 T. MAY tr. Barclay's Mirr. Mindes II. 33 Many, conscious to their owne weaknesse, doe endeavour, etc. a1649 DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN Fam. Ep. Wks. (1711) 145, I who am conscious to your patience and wisdom. 1658 USSHER Ann. 452 Their King was in no wise conscious to the murder. 1691 RAY Creation II. (1704) 434 The Mother..is not conscious to any thing that is done there. 1710 BERKELEY Princ. Hum. Knowl. I. §155 That He is present and conscious to our innermost thoughts. 1791 Duchess of York I. v, Truly conscious to the demerits of this work. 1828 C. WORDSWORTH Chas. I, 231 His Wife ‘being conscious’ to the transaction.

    6. Having internal perception or consciousness:    a. of a fact.


1651 BAXTER Inf. Bapt. 215 So much you seem to be conscious of in saying it was your meaning. 1692 BENTLEY Serm. (J.), Matter hath no life nor perception, and is not conscious of its own existence. a1700 DRYDEN Sigism. & Guisc. 720 Tancred..Who, conscious of the occasion, feared the event. 1841 D'ISRAELI Amen. Lit. (1867) 654 Lord Bacon was conscious of the slow progress of truth. 1875 JEVONS Money (1878) 172 An importance..of which even Americans are barely conscious.

    b. (in Philos.) of one's sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.


1690 LOCKE Hum. Und. II. i. §11 To be happy or miserable without being conscious of it, seems to me utterly inconsistent and impossible. 1762 KAMES Elem. Crit. i. (1833) 19 A man, while awake, is conscious of a continued train of perception and ideas passing through the mind. 1863 E. V. NEALE Anal. Th. & Nat. 205 We must conclude consciousness to belong to thought as thought. In other words thought is conscious of itself. 1864 BOWEN Logic x. 317, I am conscious, either at once or in succession, of joy or pain, of a thought, reminiscence, or volition, of a sensation of hunger, coldness, &c.

    c. of external objects. poet.


1712-14 POPE Rape Lock III. 116 Some o'er her lap their careful plumes display'd Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. 1821 SHELLEY Ginevra 18 And of the gold and jewels glittering there She scarce felt conscious. 1864 TENNYSON Aylmer's F. 336 Slowly and conscious of the rageful eye That watch'd him..Went Leolin.

    d. with subord. clause.


1694 R. BURTHOGGE Ess. Reason 4 If a person had never seen but one thing..he could not be sensible or conscious he did see it. 1737 WHISTON Josephus' Hist. II. xix. §7 Cestius was not conscious..how the besieged despaired. 1742 POPE Dunc. IV. 601 Nobly conscious, Princes are but things Born for First Ministers, as Slaves for Kings. 1784 COWPER Task I. 156 How oft..we have borne The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew. 1878 MORLEY Diderot I. 140 He was profoundly conscious that the mere accumulation of knowledge..would take men a very short way.

    e. absol. Knowing, witting, well aware. poet.


1704 POPE Windsor For. 90 The forests wonder'd at th' unusual grain, And secret transport touch'd the conscious swain. 1819 SHELLEY Cenci I. i. 73, I may speak Alike to you and my own conscious heart.

    f. absol. with the: the conscious mind.


1919 M. A. K. BRADBY Psycho-analysis iii. 34 They figure in her dreams in forms which imply moral condemnation in the unconscious as well as in the conscious, as demons or brutal people. 1960 HINSIE & CAMPBELL Psychiatric Dict. (ed. 3) 150/2 In psychiatry conscious is used..(usually) as a noun, to denote a particular division of the psyche. In such use it is practically synonymous with consciousness.

    7. a. Endowed with the faculty of consciousness; characterized by the presence of consciousness. Said of persons and their attributes.


1725 WATTS Logic I. ii. §2 Among substances some are thinking or conscious beings, or have a power of thought, such as the mind of man, God, angels. 1775 HARRIS Philos. Arrangem. (1841) 318 With a power which appears almost a conscious one. 1876 MOZLEY Univ. Serm. xvi. 264 Man..as a conscious being, conscious of himself, and conscious of others around him. 1885 W. L. DAVIDSON Logic of Defin. 138 Feeling and Volition are conscious elements no less than Intellect.

    b. Having one's mental faculties actually in an active and waking state. See CONSCIOUSNESS 6.


1841 LYTTON Nt. & Morn. V. xxi, And when at last he was conscious. 1880 T. HOLMES Syst. Surg. (1883) I. 505 The sister reported that he had become conscious, having recognized her and called her by name.

    8. Aware of what one is doing or intending to do; having a purpose and intention in one's actions. Said of agents and their actions, etc.


1860 WESTCOTT Introd. Study Gosp. vi. (ed. 5) 323 A..sequence..which few will attribute to an apt coincidence or to a conscious design. 1880 L. STEPHEN Pope ii. 25 Pope was from the first a conscious and deliberate artist. 1882 FARRAR Early Chr. I. 130 That St. Peter has here been the conscious or unconscious borrower may be regarded as certain.

    9. Having one's thoughts and attention unduly centred in one's own personality; and hence, apt to imagine that one is the object of observation by others; SELF-CONSCIOUS. Of personal bearing, actions, etc.: Displaying such preoccupation.


[1712-14 POPE Rape Lock I. 79 Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face.] 1728 {emem} Dunc. II. 6 The proud Parnassian sneer, The conscious simper, and the jealous leer, Mix on his look. 1827 CARLYLE Richter Misc. (1869) 11 He moves about with a conscious air. 1868 BAIN Ment. & Mor. Sc. App. 93 When a person is said to be morbidly or excessively conscious, there is indicated an excessive attention to the feelings and the thoughts, and a slender amount of occupation with outward things.

    10. transf. Of things:    a. Objective or present to consciousness; known to oneself, felt, sensible.    b. Aware of itself, aware of its own existence.


1667 MILTON P.L. II. 801 They..howle and gnaw My Bowels, their repast; then bursting forth Afresh with conscious terrours vex me round. 1711 STEELE Spect. No. 4 {page}6 She knows she is handsom, but she knows she is good. Conscious Beauty adorned with conscious Virtue! 1766 GOLDSM. Vic. W. xxxi, His face became pale with conscious guilt. 1818 HAZLITT Eng. Poets i. (1870) 11 Knowledge is conscious power. 1833 I. TAYLOR Fanat. vi. 178 The conscious indistinctness of the grounds on which it demands submission. 1877 MOZLEY Univ. Serm. iv. 83 Truth..gives conscious rank to its possessors.

    {dag}11. Having a conscience; conscientious. rare.


1654 COKAINE Dianea 90 One of the most worthy and consciousest Princes that belonged to the service of the Crown.

    12. Appended to ns. forming adjs. with the sense ‘conscious of{em}, aware of{em}’; as CLASS-CONSCIOUS, COLOUR-CONSCIOUS, etc. (see the ns.).


1903 [see CLASS n. 9]. 1918 [see dress-conscious s.v. DRESS n. 4a]. 1928 [see clothes-conscious s.v. CLOTHES n. pl. 4]. 1933 Punch 5 July 25/1 We learn to eat at least a twelve-month before we learn to talk; not till several years after that do we become money-conscious. 1934 H. G. WELLS Exper. Autobiogr. I. ii. 79, I became woman-conscious from those days onward. 1938 B. RUSSELL Power 166 It [sc. a chess-club] might..seek to make more people ‘chess-conscious’. 1959 Times Lit. Suppl. 20 Mar. p. vi/3 A culture so history-conscious. 1970 Daily Tel. 18 July 10 City of London policemen are to be encouraged to weigh themselves regularly and become more weight-conscious.

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