pen·​sive | \ˈpen(t)-siv \

Definition of pensive 

1 : musingly or dreamily thoughtful a pensive young poet

2 : suggestive of sad thoughtfulness her face had the pensive mournfulness of a seraph in an old sad painting— Herman Wouk

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Other Words from pensive

pensively adverb
pensiveness noun

Examples of pensive in a Sentence

… the combination of national crisis and imminent electoral victory creates an atmosphere at once pensive and elated. — Yossi Klein Halevi, New Republic, 25 Dec. 2000 We take in the synchronized swimming of sardines and the pensive patrol of a leopard shark. — Roger Rosenblatt, Time, 5 Oct. 1998 … did not seem depressed so much as pensive, and within a few minutes he was talking eagerly—in fact, unstoppably—about his favorite subject: school. — James Traub, New Yorker, 19 Dec. 1994 The child sat by himself, looking pensive. rainy days often put her in a pensive mood
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Recent Examples on the Web

While Paradise wasn't always easy for Cooper, a 29-year-old fitness model/social media manager, and Kimball, a 26-year-old pensive gentleman, the two are happy their journey was documented. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Here's What Is Next for Bachelor in Paradise's Newly Engaged Jenna Cooper and Jordan Kimball," 11 Sep. 2018 This post has been updated to include a picture of Ivanka Trump looking pensive. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Ivanka Trump Told Her ‘Daddy’ That Images of Detained Children Look Bad," 20 June 2018 Spider-Man’s pensive moments — when Peter agonized over sacrifices his alter ego had demanded of him, for example — echoed the psychological struggles in Mr. Ditko’s earlier horror comics. Andy Webster, New York Times, "Steve Ditko, Influential Comic-Book Artist Who Helped Create Spider-Man, Dies at 90," 7 July 2018 There’s her non-granddaughter most importantly, a precise, pensive, tender girl, but also a modest doctor, a shy teenager, a dog named Airplane. Charles Finch, USA TODAY, "Time heals family wounds in Anne Tyler's lovely new novel, 'Clock Dance'," 9 July 2018 Throughout the makeover, Elana Frey sat outside in a red folding chair, pensive, waiting, oblivious to the Metro Expo Line train that streaked by on its way downtown. Barbara Thornburg,, "A South L.A. apartment gets the celebrity treatment," 8 June 2018 On the way to his car after the game, Baarns was pensive. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "The Allegory of the Baseball Broadcast Booth," 6 June 2018 The Wu Tang Clan’s pensive member travels to meet with scientists studying the innovations in virtual reality, manufacturing and both ocean and space exploration. Gabe Cohn, New York Times, "What’s on TV Saturday: ‘It’ and ‘Liquid Science’," 30 June 2018 There is no malice in any of this, just a simple, unblinking desperation to be viewed as the popular pensive gentleman Jordan sees himself as., "Jordan Is The Bachelorette’s Surprise Tragic Figure," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pensive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pensive

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pensive

Middle English pensif, from Anglo-French, from penser to think, from Latin pensare to ponder, frequentative of pendere to weigh — more at pendant

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Statistics for pensive

Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pensive

The first known use of pensive was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pensive



English Language Learners Definition of pensive

: quietly sad or thoughtful


pen·​sive | \ˈpen-siv \

Kids Definition of pensive

: lost in serious or sad thought a pensive mood

Other Words from pensive

pensively adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on pensive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pensive

Spanish Central: Translation of pensive

Nglish: Translation of pensive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pensive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pensive

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