sen·si·tive | \ˈsen(t)-sə-tiv, ˈsen(t)s-təv\

Definition of sensitive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2a : receptive to sense impressions

b : capable of being stimulated or excited by external agents (such as light, gravity, or contact) sensitive cells

3 : highly responsive or susceptible: such as

a(1) : easily hurt or damaged especially : easily hurt emotionally

(2) : delicately aware of the attitudes and feelings of others

b : excessively or abnormally susceptible : hypersensitive sensitive to egg protein

c : readily fluctuating in price or demand sensitive commodities

d : capable of indicating minute differences : delicate sensitive scales

e : readily affected or changed by various agents (such as light or mechanical shock) a photographic emulsion sensitive to red light

f : highly radiosensitive

4a : concerned with highly classified government information or involving discretionary authority over important policy matters sensitive documents

b : calling for tact, care, or caution in treatment : touchy a sensitive issue like race relations

5 : having or showing concern for a specified matter usually used in combination a price-sensitive customerenvironmentally sensitive policies



Definition of sensitive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person having occult or psychical abilities

2 : a sensitive person

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Other Words from sensitive


sensitively adverb
sensitiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sensitive

Synonyms: Adjective

delicate, fragile, frail, tender

Antonyms: Adjective


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Choose the Right Synonym for sensitive


liable, open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive mean being by nature or through circumstances likely to experience something adverse. liable implies a possibility or probability of incurring something because of position, nature, or particular situation. liable to get lost open stresses a lack of barriers preventing incurrence. a claim open to question exposed suggests lack of protection or powers of resistance against something actually present or threatening. exposed to infection subject implies an openness for any reason to something that must be suffered or undergone. all reports are subject to review prone stresses natural tendency or propensity to incur something. prone to delay susceptible implies conditions existing in one's nature or individual constitution that make incurrence probable. very susceptible to flattery sensitive implies a readiness to respond to or be influenced by forces or stimuli. unduly sensitive to criticism

Examples of sensitive in a Sentence


He acts like a tough guy, but he's really very sensitive to criticism. I found him to be a sensitive and caring person.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

However, Horowitz found no evidence that the FBI or DOJ were motivated by political bias in deciding not to prosecute Clinton for using a private email server to send and receive sensitive information. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "FBI agent Peter Strzok: My personal opinion of Trump did not affect my work," 12 July 2018 The Sale of Cambodia’s Last Independent Newspaper Pushes Press Freedom Into Peril For rights monitors and journalists handling sensitive information, the stakes of such attacks are high. Abby Seiff / Phnom Penh, Time, "Chinese State-Linked Hackers in Large Scale Operation to Monitor Cambodia's Upcoming Elections, Report Says," 11 July 2018 That work fueled research that showed how much sensitive information could be gleaned by Facebook likes. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "UK Regulators May Fine Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica," 10 July 2018 The Soviet system for transporting sensitive materials by rail made this easier. The Economist, "North Korea presents nuclear disarmament’s biggest challenge yet," 5 July 2018 The two sides have been sparring most recently over how to protect sensitive investigative materials from disclosure. Chris Strohm,, "Mueller taps more prosecutors to help with growing Trump probe," 5 July 2018 The world is a really crazy place for people that are super sensitive to things like texture and color. Chris Payne, Billboard, "Slothrust Announce New Album, Premiere Fuzzy Grunge-Pop Track 'Peach': Exclusive," 28 June 2018 That Wolfe is charged with improperly handling sensitive committee material represents a major breach; the security director is the person entrusted to administer the strict confidentiality procedures for all member offices and committee staffers. NBC News, "Top Senate staffer arrested in leak probe, after NY Times reporter's records are seized," 8 June 2018 Although the ingredient list sounds slightly daunting (acids, ah!), this product is totally safe to use daily on sensitive skin. Sarah Kinonen, Allure, "Herbivore Botanicals' New Prism Exfoliating Glow Potion Is the Prettiest Serum of the Summer," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Quiet Zone is a place where mystic scientists, gun-loving locals, and electromagnetic hyper-sensitives all live amongst one another, and Drake Equation chronicles their lives in rich detail. Laura Mallonee, WIRED, "Want to Hunt Aliens? Go to West Virginia's Low-Tech 'Quiet Zone'," 3 May 2018 Growing sensitives over language extend to politics as well. Michael Holtz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Amid anniversary protests, fears that Hong Kong is 'just another mainland city'," 3 July 2017

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1807, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for sensitive


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin sensitivus, probably alteration of sensativus, from sensatus sensate

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Phrases Related to sensitive

sensitive soul

Statistics for sensitive

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for sensitive

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

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More Definitions for sensitive



English Language Learners Definition of sensitive

: easily upset by the things that people think or say about you

: likely to cause people to become upset

: aware of and understanding the feelings of other people


sen·si·tive | \ˈsen-sə-tiv \

Kids Definition of sensitive

1 : easily or strongly affected, impressed, or hurt a sensitive child

2 : likely to affect, impress, or hurt a sensitive topic

3 : understanding of the feelings of others

4 : capable of responding to stimulation sensitive structures of the ear

5 : readily affected or changed often in an unpleasant or negative way I have sensitive skin.

Other Words from sensitive

sensitively adverb


sen·si·tive | \ˈsen(t)-sət-iv, ˈsen(t)-stiv \

Medical Definition of sensitive 

1 : sensory sense 2 sensitive nerves

2a : receptive to sense impressions

b : capable of being stimulated or excited by external agents (as light, gravity, or contact) a photographic emulsion sensitive to red light sensitive protoplasm

3 : highly responsive or susceptible: as

a : easily hurt or damaged sensitive skin especially : easily hurt emotionally

b : excessively or abnormally susceptible : hypersensitive sensitive to egg protein

c : capable of indicating minute differences sensitive scales

d : readily affected or changed by various agents (as light or mechanical shock) a sensitive colloid

Other Words from sensitive

sensitiveness noun

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Comments on sensitive

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