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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.