Sensual vs. sensuous

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The main definitions of the adjective sensuous are (1)  of, relating to, or derived from the senses, and (2) appealing to the sensesSensual also means appealing to the senses, but it often has erotic connotations that sensuous doesn’t have. Think of sensual as often a cross between sensuous and sexual.

Still, the line between sensual and sensuous is sometimes blurry, and mixing them up is usually not a serious usage problem.



Peering into the gloom of the temples I glimpsed colourful frescoes and sensuous statues. [Telegraph]

He is renowned for his luminous paintings of the sea and his sensuous treatment of pears and apples in still life. [Naples Daily News]

Good art is the sensuous presentation of those ideas which matter most to the proper functioning of our souls, and yet which we are most inclined to forget. [BBC News]


The title for the March release evokes a mysterious, sensual woman who can easily seduce any man to do anything she needs him to do. [MTV]

The comb is imbedded with images of a naked woman which are playful, provocative, exotic and sensual. [National Business Review]

Now the purveyor of sensual lotions and bedroom toys is out to show its “relationship enhancement” formula will work internationally, too. [Business Courier]

So, a more fruitful topic might be, how to maintain purity in a sensual culture. [Florida Baptist Witness]