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[pen-siv] /ˈpɛn sɪv/
dreamily or wistfully thoughtful:
a pensive mood.
expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness:
a pensive adagio.
Origin of pensive
1325-75; < French (feminine); replacing Middle English pensif < Middle French (masculine), derivative of penser to think < Latin pēnsāre to weigh, consider, derivative of pēnsus, past participle of pendere. See pension, -ive
Related forms
pensively, adverb
pensiveness, noun
overpensive, adjective
overpensively, adverb
overpensiveness, noun
1. thoughtless.
Synonym Study
1. Pensive, meditative, reflective suggest quiet modes of apparent or real thought. Pensive, the weakest of the three, suggests dreaminess or wistfulness, and may involve little or no thought to any purpose: a pensive, faraway look. Meditative involves thinking of certain facts or phenomena, perhaps in the religious sense of “contemplation,” without necessarily having a goal of complete understanding or of action: meditative but unjudicial. Reflective has a strong implication of orderly, perhaps analytic, processes of thought, usually with a definite goal of understanding: a careful and reflective critic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pensiveness
Historical Examples
  • But Salvator was capable of pensiveness, of faith, and of fear.'

    Art in England

    Dutton Cook
  • "No," rejoined Winterbourne, with something of that pensiveness to which his aunt had alluded.

    Daisy Miller Henry James
  • He had grown accustomed to these moments of pensiveness on his mother's part.

    The Silver Lining John Roussel
  • Often have I reflected on it; sometimes with pensiveness, with sadness never.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • "I cry you mercy," said Warner, with something of sarcasm in his pensiveness of tone.

    The Disowned, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • But Salvator was capable of pensiveness, of faith, and of fear.

  • The look of pensiveness on Joes face changed into one of longing.

    A Tale of the Tow-Path Homer Greene
  • Even the pensiveness of the story—the sadness of love unsatisfied—is mellow.

    Thomas Hardy's Dorset Robert Thurston Hopkins
  • In this her prime of existence and bloom of beauty they but subdued vivacity to pensiveness.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
  • Selim shivered all at once and woke up from his pensiveness.

    Hania Henryk Sienkiewicz
British Dictionary definitions for pensiveness


deeply or seriously thoughtful, often with a tinge of sadness
expressing or suggesting pensiveness
Derived Forms
pensively, adverb
pensiveness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pensif, from penser to think, from Latin pensāre to consider; compare pension1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pensiveness



late 14c., from Old French pensif "thoughtful, distracted, musing" (11c.), from penser "to think," from Latin pensare "weigh, consider," frequentative of pendere "weigh" (see pendant). Related: Pensively; pensiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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