pen·​sive | \ ˈpen(t)-siv How to pronounce pensive (audio) \

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The musician showcased the pensive tune, which reflects on embracing life for those who are no longer with us, alongside her band. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 11 May 2022 The melody climbs the musical scale, building tension before the tempo slows and becomes pensive and lyrical, like the slow drift of falling leaves. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 It’s one of the more upbeat offerings in the group’s pensive catalogue of music, with its music video featuring a dance-off and cheeky visuals. Washington Post, 4 May 2022 Moods transform into weather, and the confusion of adolescence is pressed against the legacy of generational abuse in this pensive story of endurance and survival. Leah Tyler, ajc, 25 Apr. 2022 Clothes must be returned to the closet and the rooms tidied up, after which the family spends a poignant and pensive night. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2022 At the end of the program, Cuckson and GoGwilt performed a composition by Aucoin that resolved with the exchange of pensive, single notes. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Apr. 2022 The star stands with a pensive look on his face in blue pants and a flowing white top with pink accents, including a collar. Rachel Desantis,, 23 Mar. 2022 Something about the scale of the imagery used in his education did not sit well with the pensive teen. Keyaira Boone, Essence, 20 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for pensive

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

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Dictionary Entries Near pensive

pension trust


pen sketch

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Statistics for pensive

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pensive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pensive


pen·​sive | \ ˈpen-siv How to pronounce pensive (audio) \

Kids Definition of pensive

: lost in serious or sad thought a pensive mood

Other Words from pensive

pensively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pensive

Nglish: Translation of pensive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pensive for Arabic Speakers


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