sen·​sa·​tion·​al·​ism | \sen-ˈsā-shnə-ˌli-zəm, -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 \ adjective or noun
sensationalistic \sen-​ˌsā-​shnə-​ˈli-​stik, -​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

More competition for fewer readers and advertisers tempted traditionally staid news outlets toward tabloid sensationalism and fantasy, albeit in a more political and (usually) less salacious vein. Amar Bhidé, WSJ, "Skepticism Beats Snopes as an Antidote to Fake News," 8 June 2018 Some of these artists will rise beyond sheer sensationalism; others will flame out quickly. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, "Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” Is as Studious as It Is Bombastic," 27 Sep. 2017 Never a company to shy from sensationalism, the distributor emerged as the likely suitor for the director's latest bacchanal that stars Sofia Boutella as a dancer who finds pleasure in a no-rules forest orgy. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "What Matters in Hollywood Today," 14 May 2018 So anomalies, trends, advertising, hysteria, sensationalism. Karen Bliss, Billboard, "Aloe Blacc on 'America's Musical Journey' Doc, His Forthcoming Album & Unreleased Songs With Avicii," 20 June 2018 Even amateurs who don’t expect payment often hope for attention, swelling a race to the bottom in sensationalism. Amar Bhidé, WSJ, "Skepticism Beats Snopes as an Antidote to Fake News," 8 June 2018 But the sensationalism attached to her suicide keeps us from reading Last Words from Montmartre as a formidable work, well ahead of its time. Ankita Chakraborty, Longreads, "A Crocodile In Paris: The Queer Classics of Qiu Miaojin," 8 June 2018 Derecka says we can't get caught up in the sensationalism. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Wear a hoodie for Trayvon," 24 Mar. 2012 Avid tabloid coverage of the tension has drawn criticism even from the Daily Mail, itself no stranger to royal-themed sensationalism. Laura King,, "Pomp and pageantry, a few days early: In Windsor, royal regalia goes through its paces," 17 May 2018

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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English Language Learners Definition of sensationalism

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of sensationalism Encyclopedia article about sensationalism

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to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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