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noun, plural sen·si·tiv·i·ties for 2, 3.
  1. the state or quality of being sensitive; sensitiveness.
  2. Physiology.
    1. the ability of an organism or part of an organism to react to stimuli; irritability.
    2. degree of susceptibility to stimulation.
  3. Electricity.
    1. the ability of a radio device to react to incoming signals, expressed as the minimum input signal required to produce a specified output signal with a given noise level.
    2. the input, as voltage, current, or the like, required to produce full deflection in an electric measuring device, expressed as the ratio of the response to the magnitude of the input quantity.

Origin of sensitivity

First recorded in 1795–1805; sensitive + -ity
Related formsan·ti·sen·si·tiv·i·ty, noun, plural an·ti·sen·si·tiv·i·ties, adjectivenon·sen·si·tiv·i·ty, noun, plural non·sen·si·tiv·i·ties.

Synonyms for sensitivity

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1. See sensibility. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for sensitivity


noun plural -ties
  1. the state or quality of being sensitive
  2. physiol the state, condition, or quality of reacting or being sensitive to an external stimulus, drug, allergen, etc
  3. electronics the magnitude or time of response of an instrument, circuit, etc, to an input signal, such as a current
  4. photog the degree of response of an emulsion to light or other actinic radiation, esp to light of a particular colour, expressed in terms of its speed
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 sensitivity

1803, from sensitive + -ity. Sensitivity training attested by 1954.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sensitivity in Medicine


  1. The quality or condition of being sensitive.
  2. The capacity of an organ or organism to respond to a stimulus.
  3. The proportion of individuals in a population that will be correctly identified when administered a test designed to detect a particular disease, calculated as the number of true positive results divided by the number of true positive and false negative results.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.