sensitivity

noun
sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈti-və-tē \
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The IceCube collaboration has proposed an upgrade that stands to improve sensitivity by an order of magnitude, and similar instruments are planned for deployment in the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Baikal, Siberia. Mark Bowen, Scientific American, "Neutrinos on Ice: Astronomers' Long Hunt for Source of Extragalactic "Ghost Particles" Pays Off," 12 July 2018 That statement and an Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the situation's sensitivity, said the attack occurred in Uruzgan province. Dan Lamothe, chicagotribune.com, "1 U.S. service member killed, 2 wounded in apparent insider attack in Afghanistan," 7 July 2018 There’s no place for it, especially here in this state, where sensitivity should be heightened to this kind of thing. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "'We've Had Problems With Your Kind Before': Black Frat Files Racial-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Alabama Restaurant," 5 July 2018 Hormone volume and pore sensitivity are genetically determined, and both play a factor in whether or not clogging occurs. Adam Hurly, GQ, "How to Get Rid of Adult Acne," 13 June 2018 Several of the overhead fluorescent light banks are covered with a thin, blue material that mutes the harshness of the lighting for a student with sensitivity issues. Steven Goode, Courant Community, "Windsor Teacher Of The Year: I’m Not Their Ruler, I’m Their Leader," 8 June 2018 The swearing-in of Italy’s new populist prime minister ended the political uncertainty, if not the market’s sensitivity to the issue. 1. Paul Dobson, Bloomberg.com, "Why Italy's Political Struggles Stoke Euro Worries," 6 June 2018 Those sensitivities were exploited by the industry to discredit the campaign to end bear farming, unfairly portraying it as acting in the interests of multinational drug companies out to seize market share from Chinese rivals. Author: Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "From hemorrhoids to hangovers: Bear bile is treasured in China, and that’s bad for captive bears," 3 June 2018 Both teams focused on carbon monoxide, a gas that emits a distinctive signal at millimeter wavelength, perfect for the ALMA’s sensitivity. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "This distant disk may contain the youngest exoplanets ever detected," 14 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of sensitivity

1773, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sensitivity

The first known use of sensitivity was in 1773

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More Definitions for sensitivity

sensitivity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sensitivity

: the tendency to become upset about things that are done to you, are said about you, or relate to you

: the tendency to cause people to be upset

: an awareness and understanding of the feelings of other people

sensitivity

noun
sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ˌsen-sə-ˈti-və-tē \

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.

sensitivity

noun
sen·​si·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ˌsen(t)-sə-ˈtiv-ət-ē \
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

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