[ sen-sey-shuh-nl-iz-uhm ]
/ sɛnˈseɪ ʃə nlˌɪz əm /
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See synonyms for: sensationalism / sensationalistic on Thesaurus.com


subject matter, language, or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.
the use of or interest in this subject matter, language, or style: The cheap tabloids relied on sensationalism to increase their circulation.
  1. the doctrine that the good is to be judged only by the gratification of the senses.
  2. the doctrine that all ideas are derived from and are essentially reducible to sensations.
Psychology. sensationism.



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Origin of sensationalism

First recorded in 1840–50; sensational + -ism
sen·sa·tion·al·ist, noun, adjectivesen·sa·tion·al·is·tic, adjectivenon·sen·sa·tion·al·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for sensationalism

/ (sɛnˈseɪʃənəˌlɪzəm) /


the use of sensational language, etc, to arouse an intense emotional response
such sensational matter itself
Also called: sensualism philosophy
  1. the doctrine that knowledge cannot go beyond the analysis of experience
  2. ethics the doctrine that the ability to gratify the senses is the only criterion of goodness
psychol the theory that all experience and mental life may be explained in terms of sensations and remembered images
aesthetics the theory of the beauty of sensuality in the arts
Also called (for senses 3, 4): sensationism
sensationalist, noun, adjectivesensationalistic, adjective
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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