What Does Bring Them to Their Senses Mean?

Bring Them to Their Senses Meaning

Definition: Regain cognitive power; be made to realize a certain point; regain focus.

The first meaning of this idiom is to return someone to normal mental functioning after a period of less-than-normal level of cognitive power.

The second is to bring someone around to your point of view. The person can be said to have been out of his senses by thinking irrationally about something; bringing him back to his senses means regaining a logical point of view and, essentially, agreeing with you.

A third meaning may be regaining focus in one’s life after being distracted and unmotivated for a period of time.

Origin of To Bring Someone to One’s Senses

Senses is a noun from the 1560s that meant mental faculties, conscious cognitive powers. The earliest meaning of bringing someone to their senses was that of arousing someone from a stupor and regaining their mental faculties.

define brought to one's sensesIn the 1883 Daily Yellowstone Journal, we can read,

  • A man who was probably under stupidness of liquor wandered into the Merchants hotel yesterday, and was brought to his senses by C.H. Wilcox, a guest of the house, in a manner that would awaken the dead.

And in 1894, in The Eagle,

  • At first they thought the man was dead, but when they reached the steamer’s deck he was still faintly breathing, and in the hands of a skillful physician he was brought to his senses.

An early example of the second meaning can be found in The Day Book, in 1912,

  • If there is a tendency on the part of any appreciative or ignorant man to break over [to the other side], he is quickly brought to his senses by the men themselves, who are determined to “make good.”

Examples of To Bring Someone to One’s Senses

bring them to their sensesIn the modern day, it is most common to hear the third meaning of the phrase: regaining focus.

For example,

  • He claimed it was his time in prison that brought him to his senses, and he never returned to his old ways of doing things.

-or-

  • Her fear of losing her child brought her to her senses and she stopped drinking.

More Examples

  • The birth of his son in 2005 brought [Bradley Wiggins] to his senses and restored his sense of purpose. –The Guardian
  • His friend died of an overdose in 2006 which brought him to his senses and he has not touched drugs since. –Irish Independent

Summary

To bring someone to their senses is to regain logic, focus, or mental faculties after a spell of being illogical, unfocused, or unconscious.

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