sen·​si·​tive | \ ˈsen(t)-sə-tiv How to pronounce sensitive (audio) , 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 for sensitive

Synonyms: 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

Adjective 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 Many companies are looking for a level playing field that does not put them at risk of sharing sensitive data that competitors keep secret. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Corporate secrecy over climate change targeted by Washington and California," 29 Apr. 2021 Earlier this month, this same Babuk group also reportedly attempted to hit an NBA team, the Houston Rockets, with ransomware — and even claimed to have accessed sensitive data like player contracts. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Russian hackers are getting even more brazen in the US," 29 Apr. 2021 Contact dermatitis is common, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and individuals with chronic skin problems like sensitive skin might be more prone to the condition. Maggie O'neill,, "3 Common Allergy Rashes—and What They Look Like," 27 Apr. 2021 There are also vulnerabilities fixed in iOS 14.5 which could allow an attacker to read sensitive data on your device, again chaining vulnerabilities together, Wright says. Kate O'flaherty, Forbes, "iOS 14.5: Update Now Warning Issued To All iPhone Users," 26 Apr. 2021 For those with sensitive skin, using the wrong razor or shaving creams can lead to itchiness and bumps. Akili King, Vogue, "The Best Razors for Women Looking to Achieve a Smooth Shave—and Chicer Shower—in 2021," 20 Apr. 2021 The attackers who exploited Pulse Secure are extremely sophisticated and used their access to steal account credentials and other sensitive data belonging to victim organizations, said Charles Carmakal, FireEye's senior vice president. Brian Fung And Geneva Sands, CNN, "Suspected Chinese hackers exploited Pulse Secure VPN to compromise 'dozens' of agencies and companies in US and Europe," 20 Apr. 2021 In 2014-2015, lax restrictions on access helped Chinese spies steal sensitive personal data on more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees from the Office of Personnel Management. Frank Bajak, Star Tribune, "SolarWinds hacking campaign puts Microsoft in the hot seat," 17 Apr. 2021 In this type of attack, bad actors can force malicious code into online forms hosted on websites, which can cause the websites to potentially spit out sensitive user data, among other actions. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Why Facebook and LinkedIn’s data scraping fiascos are a huge security problem for their users," 17 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Coronado’s personal experience with the coronavirus has made the Oaxaca native sensitive to the pandemic situation in the state. Washington Post, "Tourists are welcome in Oaxaca, Mexico. Their increasingly bad behavior is not.," 26 Feb. 2021 Because the textbook business is highly competitive and price sensitive, Chegg’s growth potential is mainly in the latter segment. Jinjoo Lee, WSJ, "Chegg Ticks All the Right Boxes," 18 Aug. 2020 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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Time Traveler for sensitive

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sensitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce sensitive (audio) \

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 How to pronounce sensitive (audio) \

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

Comments on sensitive

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