[ sen-tuh-men-tl ]
/ ˌsɛn təˈmɛn tl /
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expressive of or appealing to sentiment, especially the tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia: a sentimental song.
pertaining to or dependent on sentiment: We kept the old photograph for purely sentimental reasons.
weakly emotional; mawkishly susceptible or tender: the sentimental Victorians.
characterized by or showing sentiment or refined feeling.
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Origin of sentimental

First recorded in 1740–50; sentiment + -al1

OTHER WORDS FROM sentimental

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sentimental mean?

Sentimental means expressing, appealing to, or being moved by sensitive or tender emotions, such as love, nostalgia, or pity.

The state or quality of being sentimental is sentimentality. Sentimental, sentimentality, and other related words (like sentimentalism, which can be used as a synonym of sentimentality) are based on the sense of the word sentiment that refers to sensitive or tender emotions, sensitivity to such emotions, or appeal to such emotions.

Such terms are especially used to imply that these emotions are exaggerated or overindulged. Sometimes, they imply that these emotions get in the way of thinking logically or being realistic.

People are sometimes criticized for being overly sentimental, as in Stop being so sentimental and looking at things through rose-colored glasses, instead of seeing what they’re really like.  

These kinds of criticisms are especially common in the context of art. For example, a book or film may be criticized as being overly sentimental in dealing with a historical event. This implies that it portrays the event in an idealized, simplistic, or nostalgic way instead of depicting it accurately and dealing with what really happened.

Such works might also be described as melodramatic. When they’re tearfully or weakly emotional, they might be described as maudlin, mawkish, sappy, or weepy. Hallmark holiday movies are known for being sentimental.

Things that are kept due to being associated with fond memories or loved ones are said to have sentimental value.

Example: He’s so sentimental that he keeps all of his childhood toys.

Where does sentimental come from?

The first records of the word sentimental come from the mid-1700s. The word sentiment is first recorded in the 1300s and comes from the Latin verb sentī(re), meaning “to feel.” The suffix -al is used to form adjectives.

Books and movies that are sentimental are intended to make you feel all the feels—to have an emotional impact, especially one that makes you cry. Sometimes, though, this kind of sentimentality comes at the expense of a realistic story or believable characters. This kind of emotional effect is sometimes described as cheaply sentimental.

Still, sentimental isn’t always used negatively. When a person is sentimental, it often means they are sensitive to their own emotions and to those of others. That focus on feelings like tenderness might mean they express love very openly.

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What are some other forms related to sentimental?

What are some synonyms for sentimental?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sentimental

What are some words that often get used in discussing sentimental?

How is sentimental used in real life?

Sentimental is often used to describe people and works of art. It’s often used in a critical way to imply that they are unrealistic, but this is not always the case.


Try using sentimental!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of sentimental?

A. realistic
B. maudlin
C. cloying
D. sappy

How to use sentimental in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sentimental

/ (ˌsɛntɪˈmɛntəl) /

tending to indulge the emotions excessively
making a direct appeal to the emotions, esp to romantic feelings
relating to or characterized by sentiment

Derived forms of sentimental

sentimentally, adverb
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