Conscience, conscious and self-conscious

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A conscience is a person’s inner guide that delineates right from wrong and directs that person into right behavior. A conscience is that inner sense that causes anxiety or guilt when a person proceeds on a course that he knows is unethical. The word conscience arrives in the English language in the early thirteenth century, from the Latin word conscientia, meaning knowledge within oneself, a moral sense.

Conscious is an adjective that describes of state of awareness, awake and responding, having knowledge of something or being worried about something. Conscious first appears in the sixteenth century meaning knowing, privy to, coming from the Latin conscius, which means knowing, aware.

Self-conscious is an adjective which means having self-awareness, usually meaning being unduly worried about how one appears to others, embarrassment.


Mr Cameron said the West Bromwich East MP should “examine his conscience” for comments about former Conservative politician Lord Brittan. (The Birmingham Mail)

Nevertheless, he added, he would not totally dismiss the possibility that a few BN MPs would be pricked badly enough by their conscience to risk their parties’ punishment and vote in the national interest. (Free Malaysia Today)

Conscious decisions: Deepak Chopra sticks to his message (The Ottawa Citizen)

My parents were consciously uncoupling before conscious uncoupling was a thing, and they didn’t wait to be divorced to do it. (The New York Times)

Though they know their father would’ve been self-conscious about all the attention and kind words at the ceremony, Makala said it’s a rare gift to have a loved one so honored. (The Morning Call)

“I felt a bit self-conscious at first because Elodie wasn’t Lance’s baby, but my friends were so happy for me.” (The MIrror)

This nation, so long the world’s moral conscience, has not shown as much public sympathy toward these refugees as might have been expected from the poignant news coverage.  (The Omaha News-Herald)