sensitivity

noun

sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio)
plural sensitivities
: the quality or state of being sensitive: such as
a
: the capacity of an organism or sense organ to respond to stimulation : irritability
b
: the quality or state of being hypersensitive
c
: the degree to which a radio receiving set responds to incoming waves
d
: the capacity of being easily hurt
e
: awareness of the needs and emotions of others
a book written with just the right mix of empathy and sensitivityL. C. Brown

Did you know?

Do you have acuity or sensitivity?

Acuity is nearly synonymous with at least one sense of sensitivity, yet, as is so often the case with closely-related words, there are subtle differences worth observing before you substitute one of these words for the other. Acuity does refer to a form of sensitivity, but it is most often applied to the perceptual senses (as in “visual acuity” or “auditory acuity”). It is also frequently used in reference to the intellect (as in “mental acuity”). Sensitivity has a broader range of meanings than acuity does, including “the capacity of being easily hurt.” It may be used of inanimate objects such as radios (“the sensitivity of the instruments was carefully calibrated”), a context in which acuity is unusual.

Examples of sensitivity in a Sentence

I was surprised by her extreme sensitivity about even the smallest suggestions that we made. This is a matter of great political sensitivity. He handled the situation with great sensitivity. Her decision shows a lack of sensitivity. I would have appreciated a little more sensitivity from you.
Recent Examples on the Web However, quantum computers face a more daunting challenge due to their inherent sensitivity to noise from the environment. Craig S. Smith, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Its sensitivity allowed astrophysicists to detect minute changes in starlight linked to stellar oscillations, which affect both the radius and the brightness of the star. WIRED, 26 Nov. 2023 Many people struggle with the touchscreen sensitivity of their cellphones, which can cause frustration and embarrassment. Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, 25 Nov. 2023 Paired with the partial sensitivity of the blue-band sensor layer to near-UV light, the perovskite fluorescence enables the sensor to resolve exact wavelengths of UV light—as small as 250 nm—in real time and at any point on its surface. IEEE Spectrum, 24 Nov. 2023 As part of a plea deal, Benitez will be sentenced to 750 hours of community service and required to complete anger management and LGBTQ+ sensitivity training. Jeremy Childs, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2023 Confusion, sensitivity to noise and lights and even changes to sleep and mood are common symptoms. Hilary A. Diefenbach, Discover Magazine, 20 Nov. 2023 The formidable task was frustrated by the telescope’s exquisite sensitivity: Many of the faint objects typically used as landmarks blinded JWST’s ultra-sensitive eye. Quanta Magazine, 13 Nov. 2023 The cooling ceramic applicator helps to disperse the product, which is lightweight and gentle enough to use twice a day without experiencing any sensitivity. Sophie Dodd, Peoplemag, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sensitivity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1773, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sensitivity was in 1773

Dictionary Entries Near sensitivity

Cite this Entry

“Sensitivity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sensitivity. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

sensitivity

noun
sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈtiv-ət-ē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio)
plural sensitivities
: the quality or state of being sensitive

Medical Definition

sensitivity

noun
sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈtiv-ət-ē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio)
plural sensitivities
: the quality or state of being sensitive: as
a
: the capacity of an organism or sense organ to respond to stimulation : irritability
b
: the quality or state of being hypersensitive

More from Merriam-Webster on sensitivity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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