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 sensationalist (audio) \ adjective or noun
sensationalistic \ sen-​ˌsā-​shnə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce sensationalistic (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 Public rhetoric was abrasive and harsh, and zany humor and sensationalism flourished in the popular press; people were especially eager to read lurid reports of suicides. Gordon S. Wood, WSJ, "‘Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times’ Review: Unruly Genius," 25 Sep. 2020 The heightened focus on COVID-19 allows hype and sensationalism to flourish, but also shines a spotlight on phenomena that have long been consigned to the shadows. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Core Lesson of the COVID-19 Heart Debate," 21 Sep. 2020 All of these stories were either demonstrably untrue, were supported only by anonymous sources, or were the sensationalism of authors hawking books. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "How American Journalism Died," 17 Sep. 2020 On the Record represents a new kind of sensationalism. Armond White, National Review, "On the Record: The Canned Language of Self-Described Victims," 21 Aug. 2020 The 27-year-old Hearst, who became publisher in 1887, had transformed the formerly moribund Examiner into a brash, hard-hitting newspaper that blended sensationalism, aggressive reporting and an unabashed appeal to the masses. Gary Kamiya,, "Much more than a ‘sob sister’ — San Francisco reporter was one of the best of her time," 21 Aug. 2020 There’s been this sensationalism in the media that has racialized this whole thing. Adrienne So, Wired, "Parenting in the Age of the Pandemic Pod," 19 Aug. 2020 For India’s young intellectuals, the magazine quickly became an essential venue, cutting an anomalous figure in a media environment rife with sensationalism and government flattery. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "India’s Journalistic Source of Narrative Nonfiction," 10 Aug. 2020 So before the voracious horde of media sensationalism decides to somehow turn it about me, there’s a clear need to speak about the circumstances: Black Lives Matter. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Cole Sprouse Was Involved in a Late-Night Fight Outside an LA Restaurant," 17 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for sensationalism

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The first known use of sensationalism was in 1846

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Statistics for sensationalism

Last Updated

3 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sensationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for sensationalism


How to pronounce sensationalism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sensationalism

disapproving : 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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