a. Relating to or involving gratification of the senses: sensuous enjoyment; sensuous music.
b. Sexually attractive.
2. Relating to or affecting the senses; sensory: direct, sensuous experience of the world.
sen′su·osi·ty (-ŏsĭ-tē), sensu·ous·ness (-əs-nĭs) n.
Synonyms: sensuous, sensual, luxurious, voluptuous
These adjectives mean of, given to, or furnishing satisfaction of the senses. Sensuous usually applies to the senses involved in aesthetic enjoyment, as of art or music: "The sensuous joy from all things fair / His strenuous bent of soul repressed" (John Greenleaf Whittier).
Sensual more often applies to the physical senses or appetites, particularly those associated with sexual pleasure: "Of music Dr. Johnson used to say that it was the only sensual pleasure without vice" (William Seward).
Luxurious suggests a surrender to physical comfort leading to a delightful feeling of well-being: They stayed in a luxurious suite with a crystal chandelier and thick oriental rugs. Voluptuous principally implies abandoning oneself to pleasures, especially sensual pleasures: "Lucullus ... returned to Rome to lounge away the remainder of his days in voluptuous magnificence" (J.A. Froude).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.