Con"science (?), n. [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;
The sweetest cordial we receive, at last,
Is conscience of our virtuous actions past.
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
My conscience hath a thousand several
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 condemnation.
3. The estimate or determination of
conscience; conviction or right or duty.
Conscience supposes the existence of some
such [i.e., moral] faculty, and properly signifies our
consciousness of having acted agreeably or contrary to its
4. Tenderness of feeling; pity.
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
Conscience fund. -- Court of
Conscience, a court established for the recovery of
small debts, in London and other trading cities and
districts. [Eng.] Blackstone. -- 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.