sensitivity

noun
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

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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

Longstanding sensitivities over the presence of American troops in Japan also came up. Fox News, "US, Japanese agree to continue joint military exercises," 29 June 2018 With isolation comes an odd sensitivity; a strange new perspective on the people who genuinely love and appreciate your gifts. Conor Orr, SI.com, "Why Listening to Tom Brady Speak Has Reached a Point of Diminishing Return," 2 May 2018 Burn This offers a chance to see Driver’s Pale span from comic chaos to violent threat, from bluster to paralyzing sensitivity. Jason Zinoman, Vogue, "In Burn This, Adam Driver and Keri Russell Find Love in a Hopeless Place," 15 Apr. 2019 Advertising Frequency response is 15 hertz to 40 kilohertz, and sensitivity is greater than or equal to 101 decibels (at 1,000 hertz). Jim Rossman, The Seattle Times, "Tech review: Simgot in-ear monitors offer great sound and a great price," 13 Apr. 2019 These keys provide a linear-like 0-to-100-actuation sensitivity. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "I could slide the Acer Predator Helios 700's HyperDrift keyboard all day," 12 Apr. 2019 Any parent of a child with Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or sensory sensitivities will likely tell you that shopping is a challenge. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Target's New Furniture Line Is Made for Kids with Sensory Sensitivities," 4 Apr. 2019 The administration’s sensitivity on that front mushroomed into a broader trade dispute between the U.S. and China—which in turn iced out the... Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Broadcom: Follow the Money," 13 Mar. 2019 Over time, gum recession can continue to the point where the roots of your teeth are left open to infection, which can also cause some bothersome sensitivity in the area. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What to Know Before, During, and After Your Gum Graft Surgery," 11 Mar. 2019

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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Statistics for sensitivity

Last Updated

11 May 2019

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 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.

sensitivity

noun
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

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Comments on sensitivity

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