Sapience is often defined as wisdom, or the ability of an organism or entity to act with appropriate judgment. Judgment is a mental faculty which is a component of intelligence or alternatively may be considered an additional faculty, apart from intelligence, with its own properties. Robert Sternberg has segregated the capacity for judgment from the general qualifiers for intelligence, which is closer to cognizant aptitude than to wisdom. Displaying sound judgment in a complex, dynamic environment is a hallmark of wisdom.
The word sapience is derived from the Latin word sapientia, meaning wisdom. Related to this word is the Latin verb sapere, which means "to taste, to be wise, to know"; the present participle of sapere forms part of Homo sapiens, the Latin binomial nomenclature created by Carolus Linnaeus to describe the human species. Linnaeus had originally given humans the species name of diurnus, meaning man of the day. But he later decided that the dominating feature of humans was wisdom, hence application of the name sapiens. His chosen biological name was intended to emphasize man's uniqueness and separation from the rest of the animal kingdom.
In science fiction, sapience describes an essential human property that bestows "personhood" onto a non-human. It indicates that a computer, alien or other object (such as "The Luggage") will be treated as completely human character, with similar rights, capabilities and desires as any other human character. The words sentience, self-awareness and consciousness are used in similar ways in science fiction.