From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



sense +‎ -ical; later uses are probably a back-formation from nonsensical.[1]



sensical (comparative more sensical, superlative most sensical)

  1. (rare) That makes sense; showing internal logic; rational, sensible. [from late 18th c.]
    Antonyms: illogical, irrational, nonsensical, senseless
    Hyponym: commonsensical
    • 1795, [Samuel Jackson] Pratt, “Letter VIII. To the Same [the Honourable Mrs. B.].”, in Gleanings through Wales, Holland and Westphalia, with Views of Peace and War at Home and Abroad. [], volume I, London: Printed for T[homas] N. Longman, and L. B. Seeley, [], →OCLC, pages 90–91:
      But that, which had more magic for me on this occaſion, was, I confeſs, the very points, which your very ſober, ſenſical people, who are vain of their rationality, would be the leaſt ſatisfied with—the romantic means ſhe uſed to bring this journey of her heart to bear.
    • 1895, B. C. Lease [pseudonym; Benjamin Lease Crozer Griffith], A Bachelor’s Divorce. A Comedy in Three Acts, Boston, Mass.: W[alter] H. Baker, →OCLC; republished in Benjamin L[ease] C[rozer] Griffith, Plays and Monologues, [Pennsylvania, Pa.]: The Penn Publishing Company; printed privately, 1901, →OCLC, Act II, page 35:
      Neville (filling Rolinda's glass). Just a drop. / Rolinda. For your sake. [Takes a sip. / Neville. Behold the triumph of a physician over his rival! (Drinks a glass of wine.) Brute force succumbs to science! / Rolinda. Don't be nonsensical. / Neville. I'm very sensical. Just a drop! (Empties another glassful.) []
    • 1986, Fred D’Agostino, Chomsky’s System of Ideas, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN, page 189:
      A nonsensical sentence, then, is one which is inconsistent with S, while a sensical sentence is one which is consistent with S.
    • 1998, William Storm, “Tragedy, Tragic, Vision”, in After Dionysus: A Theory of the Tragic, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, →ISBN, page 41:
      The tragic condition, which is characterized most notably by the inevitable separation of mortal being from all that is held as valuable, is as dispassionate as a law of nature. It contains no inherent commentary on its stipulations, and no intrinsic propositions concerning whether its effects are sensical or not.
    • 2001 June, Alexandra Styron, All the Finest Girls: A Novel, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company; 1st paperback edition, Boston, Mass.: Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company, 2002, →ISBN, page 127:
      There I waited, exiled from the realm of sensical thoughts, for Lou's sons to find me.
    • 2004, John C. Welchman, quoting Mike Kelley, “Introduction”, in Mike Kelley, edited by John C. Welchman, Minor Histories: Statements, Conversations, Proposals, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, →ISBN, page xxii:
      So it starts with the sensical, and through shifts in syntax and cadence, goes completely abstract.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ sensical, adj. (and n.)”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2016; sensical”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.