See more synonyms for pensive on
  1. dreamily or wistfully thoughtful: a pensive mood.
  2. 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 formspen·sive·ly, adverbpen·sive·ness, nouno·ver·pen·sive, adjectiveo·ver·pen·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·pen·sive·ness, noun

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.

Antonyms for pensive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pensiveness

Historical Examples of pensiveness

  • 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.

  • "I cry you mercy," said Warner, with something of sarcasm in his pensiveness of tone.

    The Disowned, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for pensiveness


  1. deeply or seriously thoughtful, often with a tinge of sadness
  2. expressing or suggesting pensiveness
Derived Formspensively, adverbpensiveness, noun

Word Origin for pensive

C14: from Old French pensif, from penser to think, from Latin pensāre to consider; compare pension 1
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

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