[ sen-si-tiv ]
See synonyms for: sensitivesensitively on

  1. endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses.

  2. readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences.

  1. having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others.

  2. easily pained, annoyed, etc.

  3. pertaining to or connected with the senses or sensation.

  4. Physiology. having a low threshold of sensation or feeling.

  5. responding to stimuli, as leaves that move when touched.

  6. highly responsive to certain agents, as photographic plates, films, or paper.

  7. affected or likely to be affected by a specified stimulus (used in combination): price-sensitive markets.

  8. involving work, duties, or information of a highly secret or delicate nature, especially in government: a sensitive position in the State Department.

  9. requiring tact or caution; delicate; touchy: a sensitive topic.

  10. constructed to indicate, measure, or be affected by small amounts or changes, as a balance or thermometer.

  11. Radio. easily affected by external influences, especially by radio waves.

  1. a person who is sensitive.

  2. a person with psychic powers; medium.

Origin of sensitive

First recorded in 1350–1400; from Medieval Latin sēnsitīvus, irregular formation from Latin sēns(us) “felt” (past participle of sentīre “to feel”) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English sensitif(e), from Middle French sensitif, sensitive, from Medieval Latin, as above; cf. sense

Other words from sensitive

  • sen·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • non·sen·si·tive, adjective
  • non·sen·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • non·sen·si·tive·ness, noun
  • ul·tra·sen·si·tive, adjective
  • ul·tra·sen·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • un·sen·si·tive, adjective
  • un·sen·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • un·sen·si·tive·ness, noun

Words Nearby sensitive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sensitive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sensitive


/ (ˈsɛnsɪtɪv) /

  1. having the power of sensation

  2. responsive to or aware of feelings, moods, reactions, etc

  1. easily irritated; delicate: sensitive skin

  2. affected by external conditions or stimuli

  3. easily offended

  4. of or relating to the senses or the power of sensation

  5. capable of registering small differences or changes in amounts, quality, etc: a sensitive instrument

  6. photog having a high sensitivity: a sensitive emulsion

  7. connected with matters affecting national security, esp through access to classified information

  8. (of a stock market or prices) quickly responsive to external influences and thus fluctuating or tending to fluctuate

Origin of sensitive

C14: from Medieval Latin sēnsitīvus, from Latin sentīre to feel

Derived forms of sensitive

  • sensitively, adverb
  • sensitiveness, noun

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