pensive

adjective

pen·​sive ˈpen(t)-siv How to pronounce pensive (audio)
1
: musingly or dreamily thoughtful
a pensive young poet
2
: suggestive of sad thoughtfulness
her face had the pensive mournfulness of a seraph in an old sad painting Herman Wouk
pensively adverb
pensiveness noun

Example Sentences

… the combination of national crisis and imminent electoral victory creates an atmosphere at once pensive and elated. Yossi Klein Halevi, New Republic, 25 Dec. 2000 We take in the synchronized swimming of sardines and the pensive patrol of a leopard shark. Roger Rosenblatt, Time, 5 Oct. 1998 … did not seem depressed so much as pensive, and within a few minutes he was talking eagerly—in fact, unstoppably—about his favorite subject: school. James Traub, New Yorker, 19 Dec. 1994 The child sat by himself, looking pensive. rainy days often put her in a pensive mood
Recent Examples on the Web One winner was Estrada, who plays pensive, largely acoustic songs using a guitar-like Venezuelan cuatro. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2022 The melody, in a minor key, is sad, pensive, unforgettable. Jorge Camarotti, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2022 The actor sported a pensive expression while filming scenes for 1998's The Man in the Iron Mask. Grace Gavilanes, Peoplemag, 11 Nov. 2022 But while exploring the various shades of love is nothing new for Venegas, Tu Historia represents a pivot away from the more fanciful tone of her past hits and toward a more pensive point of view. Andrew Casillas, Rolling Stone, 10 Nov. 2022 Our camera is a subjective, pensive type of camera that’s really supposed to be personal to French. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Oct. 2022 And not just about Mr. Levin’s pensive mood in Pontiac. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 July 2022 Classically attired in a black tuxedo, Criss cradled an acoustic guitar for a countrified take on the pensive ballad, his atypical phrasing lending it a folk-pop vibe worthy of classic Dan Fogelberg. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 1 Oct. 2021 Alternative vinyl covers of the album show Swift lying on the cold, hard ground in a pensive state. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English pensif, from Anglo-French, from penser to think, from Latin pensare to ponder, frequentative of pendere to weigh — more at pendant

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pensive was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pensive

Cite this Entry

“Pensive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pensive. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

pensive

adjective

pen·​sive ˈpen(t)-siv How to pronounce pensive (audio)
1
: dreamily thoughtful
2
: suggestive of sad thoughtfulness
pensively adverb
pensiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pensive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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