Meaning of sensual in English:


Pronunciation /ˈsɛnʃʊəl/

See synonyms for sensual

Translate sensual into Spanish


  • Relating to or involving gratification of the senses and physical, especially sexual, pleasure.

    ‘the production of the ballet is sensual and passionate’
    • ‘She introduced him to sensual and sexual pleasure, but her continued liaisons caused him pain.’
    • ‘She took an almost sensual pleasure in snow, rubbing her nose in it, eating it, tossing it in the air, dancing in it.’
    • ‘His films generally concern the cruel power of obsessional love and the need for sensual pleasure.’
    • ‘You can have a great time with a partner, feeling aroused, sensual, intimate and loving, and not have an orgasm.’
    • ‘There is pure sensual pleasure in being in the water, going at my own pace, and life looks better afterwards.’
    • ‘You are bound to share sensual delights and exotic pleasures with your cherished one.’
    • ‘They both still feel most at home in the water, and revel in its sensual pleasures.’
    • ‘The Moon in Pisces refers to a voluptuous and sensual nature and is often cited as indicating numerous attachments.’
    • ‘She was obviously a sensual and passionate woman who loved listening to and playing music.’
    • ‘Food, I discover, is sensual, exciting and irresistibly connected with sex.’
    • ‘Her voice is amazingly kaleidoscopic, its many colours opening up a world of sensual delights.’
    • ‘But within an hour of setting off next morning, thoughts turned from the spiritual to the sensual.’
    • ‘She also sings rather well, with a husky, sensual tone hinting at a passion lurking under all those crinolines.’
    • ‘With its sensual pear shape, light green buttery flesh and single large stone, the avocado is like no other fruit.’
    • ‘She loves text and she loves to create rich, vibrant, sensual worlds around words.’
    • ‘Each seed is in a small cell of green jellyish flesh, and spooning it into your mouth is a decidedly sensual experience.’
    • ‘Sleep is likely to be fitful while you linger in the delicious sensual afterglow.’
    • ‘She has this big box of sensual anger that's all neatly locked up by her superego.’
    • ‘Sex is seen as part of this sensual excess; it's not transformative or transcendent.’
    • ‘It's such a sensual treat that I wonder if I can just get the hair wash and skip the cut altogether.’
    physical, physically gratifying, carnal, bodily, fleshly, animal
    sexually attractive, sexy, voluptuous, sultry, seductive, passionate
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The words sensual and sensuous are frequently used interchangeably to mean ‘gratifying the senses’, especially in a sexual sense. Strictly speaking, this goes against a traditional distinction, by which sensuous is a more neutral term, meaning ‘relating to the senses rather than the intellect’, as in swimming is a beautiful, sensuous experience, while sensual relates to gratification of the senses, especially sexually, as in a sensual massage. In fact the word sensuous is thought to have been invented by Milton (1641) in a deliberate attempt to avoid the sexual overtones of sensual. In practice, the connotations are such that it is difficult to use sensuous in this sense. While traditionalists struggle to maintain a distinction, the evidence from the Oxford English Corpus and elsewhere suggests that the ‘neutral’ use of sensuous is rare in modern English. If a neutral use is intended it is advisable to use alternative wording


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘sensory’): from late Latin sensualis, from sensus (see sense).