sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio) \
plural sensitivities

Definition of sensitivity

: 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 sensitivity— L. C. Brown

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 Vitale also talks emotionally about having lost vision in one of his eyes and his sensitivity to the way that looked, as an adult as well as a child. Brian Lowry, CNN, 20 July 2022 Your sensitivity might be triggered today by someone else's brash commentary. Chicago Tribune, 14 July 2022 But the film’s heart is in its sensitivity about class exclusion, an endless source of both comedy and drama to our U.K. cousins. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 2 June 2022 And his myriad eccentricities, combined with his acute sensitivity, leave him exposed to the rampages of a predatory media. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 2022 Her entire family had to give up red meat at home because of her sensitivity to meat fumes. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 25 Apr. 2022 As always, my father’s reason overrides his sensitivity. Longreads, 20 Apr. 2022 In Memoria, Jessica is always reminded of her human sensitivity rather than cheap dread about mankind’s monstrousness. Armond White, National Review, 15 Apr. 2022 The easy-to-drive ADVAR are designed specifically to pair well with a wide selection of audio devices thanks to their high sensitivity and low impedance. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of sensitivity

1773, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for sensitivity

Time Traveler

The first known use of sensitivity was in 1773

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Dictionary Entries Near sensitivity

sensitive soul


sensitivity center

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Statistics for sensitivity

Last Updated

30 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sensitivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for sensitivity


sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen-sə-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio) \

Kids Definition of sensitivity

1 : an awareness and understanding of the feelings of others
2 : the ability to express thoughts and feelings She sings with great sensitivity.


sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈtiv-ət-ē How to pronounce sensitivity (audio) \
plural sensitivities

Medical Definition of sensitivity

: 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

Nglish: Translation of sensitivity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sensitivity for Arabic Speakers


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