sen·​sa·​tion·​al·​ism | \ sen-ˈsā-shnə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce sensationalism (audio) , -shə-nə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of sensationalism

1 : empiricism that limits experience as a source of knowledge to sensation or sense perceptions
2 : the use or effect of sensational subject matter or treatment

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Other Words from sensationalism

sensationalist \ sen-​ˈsā-​shnə-​list How to pronounce sensationalism (audio) \ adjective or noun
sensationalistic \ sen-​ˌsā-​shnə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce sensationalism (audio) , -​shə-​nə-​ˈlis-​tik \ adjective

Examples of sensationalism in a Sentence

The network was accused of sensationalism in its reporting.
Recent Examples on the Web He and Hinchey were intrigued by Knox’s story and hammered out a script, but the result — a straightforward thriller that left tabloid sensationalism behind and instead focused on the young woman’s father — left him cold. Washington Post, 29 July 2021 Hollywood has been hooked on the 1990s lately, revisiting the stories of Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, Marcia Clark and other newsmakers whose experiences were often distorted by sexism and sensationalism. NBC News, 6 Sep. 2021 Competition shows, on the other hand, often incite drama, sensationalism, and over-the-top theatrics. Darkskylady,, 13 Sep. 2021 Social media really gets into incentivizing sensationalism, and incentivizing the negative. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, 23 July 2021 And while a handful of people still demand that their moisturizer contain crushed diamonds and unicorn’s tears, our appetites have switched to a new kind of luxury, one that is driven by science and sustainability rather than sensationalism. Ahmed Zambarakji, Robb Report, 10 Aug. 2021 Paramount Plus is opting for wisdom over sensationalism. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 July 2021 And though the findings seem to support the idea that trauma did, in fact, lead to changes in future generations, critics have noted small sample sizes, exaggeration of causality and media sensationalism as reasons to doubt them. Washington Post, 19 July 2021 One is the fascination and sensationalism that surrounds female murder victims. Alicia Lansom,, 2 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sensationalism.' 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 sensationalism

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of sensationalism was in 1846

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sensationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of sensationalism

: the use of shocking details to cause a lot of excitement or interest

More from Merriam-Webster on sensationalism Encyclopedia article about sensationalism


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