[ sen-tuh-men-tl-ist ]
/ ˌsɛn təˈmɛn tl ɪst /
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one given to sentiment or sentimentality.
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Origin of sentimentalist

First recorded in 1770–80; sentimental + -ist
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sentimentalist mean?

A sentimentalist is someone who’s prone to being sentimental—expressing, expressing, appealing to, or being moved by sensitive or tender emotions, such as love, nostalgia, or pity.

In other words, a sentimentalist is someone who’s prone to sentimentalism or sentimentality.

All of these terms 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.

In this way, sentimentalist is often used to refer to someone who is overly sentimental.

People are sometimes criticized for being sentimentalists, as in Sentimentalists see 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 for its sentimentalism 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 their sentimentalism, and a person who enjoys them unironically might be called a sentimentalist.

Example: He’s the kind of sentimentalist who keeps all of his childhood toys.

Where does sentimentalist come from?

The first records of the word sentimentalist come from the 1770s. The word sentimental is first recorded in 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 -ist indicates a person who practices something or holds certain principles.

A sentimentalist is someone who’s susceptible to feeling all the feels. Sometimes, being a sentimentalist comes at the expense of dealing with reality or how things really are. However, the word sentimentalist isn’t always used negatively. If a person is described as a sentimentalist, 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 sentimentalist?

  1. sentimentalism (noun)
  2. sentimental (adjective)

What are some synonyms for sentimentalist?

  • romantic (when romantic is used as a noun)

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

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

How is sentimentalist used in real life?

Sentimentalist is often used in a critical way, but not always. Some people might even identify themselves as sentimentalists.


Try using sentimentalist!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used to describe someone who’s considered a sentimentalist?

A. pessimistic
B. romantic
C. maudlin
D. sappy

How to use sentimentalist in a sentence