Word of the Day : April 3, 2018

sensibility

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noun sen-suh-BIL-uh-tee

Definition

1 : ability to receive sensations : sensitiveness

2 : peculiar susceptibility to a pleasurable or painful impression (as from praise or a slight) — often used in plural

3 : awareness of and responsiveness toward something (such as emotion in another)

4 : refined or excessive sensitiveness in emotion and taste

Did You Know?

From Latin sentire ("to feel"), the meanings of sensibility run the gamut from mere sensation of the sense organs to excessive sentimentality. In between is a capacity for delicate appreciation, a sense often pluralized. In Jane Austen's books, sensibility, a word much appreciated by the novelist, is mostly an admirable quality she attributed to or found lacking in her characters: "He had … a sensibility to what was amiable and lovely" (of Mr. Elliot in Persuasion). In Sense and Sensibility, however, Austen starts out by ascribing to Marianne sensibleness, on the one hand, but an "excess of sensibility" on the other: "Her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation … she was everything but prudent."


Examples

"In 1973, while heading the New York Philharmonic, he replaced the orchestra members' chairs with rugs and cushions, the better to appeal to the sensibilities of a young, post-hippie audience that regarded classical music as stuffy and pedantic." — George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Jan. 2016

"His guest appearances mark something more than the usual exchange of core audiences between individual artists, though they are definitely that; they're a chance to enlarge the sensibility of rap itself, to remind himself that, however hard and successfully he strains to be the biggest rapper, rap as a whole is always bigger than he is." — Frank Guan, Vulture, 14 Feb. 2018



Word Family Quiz

Unscramble the letters to create a verb derived from Latin sentire ("to feel") that means "to agree to or approve of something": EANSTS.

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