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Sensory Language: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Sensory Language?
  • 0:50 Using the Five Senses
  • 2:01 Example of Sensory Language
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Sedillo

Andrew Sedillo has taught Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology at a middle school level. He currently holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Education, Master's of Arts Educational Learning Technology, and a Graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning.

This lesson assists you in identifying and understanding the components of sensory writing found in literature. Learn more about sensory writing and test your understanding with a short quiz.

What Is Sensory Language?

Think back to the first time you tried pizza. The smell of hot cheese, sizzling pepperonis, and baked bread was overtaking. Picking up your first slice and feeling the warmth of the bread. Taking your first bite that kept you wanting more and more.

Writers use sensory writing as a means of making their writing more realistic and descriptive. They integrate the five senses (sight, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling) within their writing to give the reader more of an understanding of the text. This creates a feeling of first-hand experience, which leads to a more engaging experience for readers. This technique is extremely popular in novels. Most authors use sensory language to create an emotional connection between the reader and the characters in the story.

Using the Five Senses

Here are examples of how to use sensory language.

Sense Example
Sight Her raven black hair, still dripping after the shower, left a cascade of water spots trickling down the back of her white t-shirt.
Sound We woke up sluggish, tired from last night's ruckus. Our new puppy restlessly wandered around the house, his nails clicking over the wood floor like tap-dancing beetles, and his incessant, sharp-pitched whining filled all the corners of the house.
Taste Ugh, I hate when the sour taste of sweat drips into my mouth during practice.
Touch Her sweater was so soft, reminding me of a velvety smooth bunny or a wispy cotton ball. I was surprised it wasn't cashmere.
Smell I made sure to chew gum before my interview. I love the smell of minty breath; that sweet, icily refreshing scent is always sure to calm me down and help me focus.

Example of Sensory Language

Here, we can look at an extended story to look at some examples of sensory writing.

Jason could not focus during school, due to excitement. He knew what was awaiting him at home and could not take his eyes off the oversized red clock in the classroom. Although kids were chattering and shrieking with laughter, he could almost hear each click of the clock signifying time change. Jason vigorously snapped his favorite mint gum while simultaneously tapping his foot against the white linoleum, an anxious percussion ensemble accompanying his wait.

Time seemed to take on a new, stretched-out dimension during those last 15 minutes. When the school bell finally rang, Jason jumped out of his seat and began to run down the hall. He made it past the bustling crowds and burst through double doors in front of the school, and continued to run home with furious speed, like he was being chased by a lion.

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