Someone who derives happiness from the pleasures of the senses. A sensualist finds joy in the simple process of perceiving his or her surroundings. The smell of cinnamon, the way sunlight feels on skin, the curve of a bare branch in winter, and the taste of coffee are all sources of wonder for a sensualist. Being a sensualist means being able to truly appreciate the little things that surround us all the time.

The term (and even more so many of its synonyms) often carries negative connotations. If taken to excess, being a sensualist can mean being selfish, shallow, and materialistic, although none of those things are directly tied to the belief. Especially in Puritanical American society there are still the vestiges of the belief that pleasures of the flesh are weak and sinful. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with living life with an acute awareness of what one is feeling and perceiving. In some ways, sensualists are more awake to the world than those who from day to day think only of more important serious things.

When was the last time you noticed the way denim feels under your fingertips, or how how when you take a bite of food, you can smell it an instant before you taste it? When was the last time you listened to rainfall or the voices of your friends and realized that meaning gets conveyed in how things are said as much as by what is said? When was the last time you smelled honeysuckle?

Synonyms: voluptuary, epicure, gourmand, free liver, hedonist
Antonyms: ascetic


Sen"su*al*ist, n. [CF. F. sensualiste.]


One who is sensual; one given to the indulgence of the appetites or senses as the means of happiness.


One who holds to the doctrine of sensualism.


© Webster 1913.

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