sen·​si·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce sensibility (audio) \
plural sensibilities

Definition of sensibility

1 : ability to receive sensations : sensitiveness tactile sensibility
2 : peculiar susceptibility to a pleasurable or painful impression (as from praise or a slight) often used in plural
3 : awareness of and responsiveness toward something (such as emotion in another)
4 : refined or excessive sensitiveness in emotion and taste with especial responsiveness to the pathetic

Did you know?

From Latin sentire ("to feel"), the meanings of sensibility run the gamut from mere sensation of the sense organs to excessive sentimentality. In between is a capacity for delicate appreciation, a sense often pluralized. In Jane Austen's books, sensibility, a word much appreciated by the novelist, is mostly an admirable quality she attributed to or found lacking in her characters: "He had … a sensibility to what was amiable and lovely" (of Mr. Elliot in Persuasion). In Sense and Sensibility, however, Austen starts out by ascribing to Marianne sensibleness, on the one hand, but an "excess of sensibility" on the other: "Her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation … she was everything but prudent."

Examples of sensibility in a Sentence

The writer is remembered most for his sensibility. She's a woman of poetic sensibility.
Recent Examples on the Web In the works that seem most lifelike to our sensibility — the classical Greek, Hellenistic and Roman figures — the eyes feel crudely done. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2022 Jonathan Anderson has made a signature of exploring masculinity through queerness at JW Anderson, but his playful sensibility has been amped up post-pandemic. José Criales-unzueta, Vogue, 3 Aug. 2022 These pieces are a fusion of her basketball influence and fashion sensibility — easy to style on and off the court. Venesa Coger,, 3 Aug. 2022 But his flayed and flaying sensibility was also a matter of his very matter, of composition and color, editing and dramatic choreography, a feel for setting and costume and weather. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 23 July 2022 Ranbir has projected that extreme nature of our sensibility in the film in a beautiful way. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 23 June 2022 Its tongue-in-cheek sensibility came through anyway, poking at horror tropes with clever visual gags and a comically oversized power drill. Katie Rife,, 17 June 2022 Borrowed from the boys brings its own stylish sensibility to a look that will remain timelessly appealing. Marykate Boylan, Town & Country, 7 June 2022 Watching you in Six, your pop sensibility feels very authentic. Perrie Samotin, Glamour, 28 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of sensibility

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of sensibility was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sensibility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for sensibility


sen·​si·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce sensibility (audio) \
plural sensibilities

Kids Definition of sensibility

1 : the ability to receive or feel sensations
2 : the ability to feel and understand emotions


sen·​si·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈbil-ət-ē How to pronounce sensibility (audio) \
plural sensibilities

Medical Definition of sensibility

1 : ability to receive sensations sensibility to pain
2 : awareness of and responsiveness toward something (as emotion in another)


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