Definition of sensitive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsensədiv/


1Quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences: the new method of protein detection was more sensitive than earlier ones spiders are sensitive to vibrations on their web
More example sentences
  • Oberlander will also explain that people are highly sensitive to subliminal signals about personality, regardless of whether or not they know who a message has come from.
  • You've written that patients today are more sensitive to body signals; they're more likely to go to the doctor for something than they would have a few decades ago.
  • Well we found that females seem to be more sensitive to perceiving these signals of fear.
responsive to, reactive to, sentient of, sensitized to;
aware of, conscious of, alive to;
susceptible to, affected by, vulnerable to;
attuned to
1.1Easily damaged, injured, or distressed by slight changes: the committee called for improved protection of wildlife in environmentally sensitive areas
More example sentences
  • He said the vehicles ‘had a major visible impact with serious ramifications for Dartmoor National Park’, damaging sensitive areas of bog and heather.
  • Prefabrication of the building in a nearby factory minimized both construction waste and damage to the sensitive area by heavy equipment.
  • These creams and ointments vary in strength, and using the wrong strength in sensitive areas can damage the skin, especially in infants.
delicate, fragile;
tender, sore, raw
1.2(Of photographic materials) prepared so as to respond rapidly to the action of light.
Example sentences
  • Orthochromatic films are not sensitive to red light at all, and may be developed under a red safelight.
  • The blue filter is measuring blue light in the visible spectrum, not the ultraviolet light to which platinum materials are sensitive.
  • Even the orthochromatic films were not sensitive to red light.
1.3(Of a market) unstable and liable to quick changes of price because of outside influences.
Example sentences
  • This directly affects consumer spending, and especially sensitive markets such as house prices.
  • Some farmers and processors are saying we should not be afraid to test all cattle going to slaughter for BSE, or at least those going to sensitive markets such as Japan.
  • You can either copy as many times as you like, or not copy at all, and the record companies have been terrified of implementing the ‘copy protection on’ mode in sensitive markets.
2(Of a person or a person’s behavior) having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others' feelings: I pay tribute to the Minister for his sensitive handling of the bill
More example sentences
  • The Yorkshire Euro MP may not be the first person you'd think of if you were looking for a sensitive appreciation of the modern woman.
  • One is Mary's uniquely sensitive appreciation of the myriad ways in which the case for academic freedom may be advanced.
  • I now have a more sensitive appreciation of how devastating war really is.
tactful, careful, thoughtful, diplomatic, delicate, subtle, kid-glove;
sympathetic, compassionate, understanding, intuitive, responsive, insightful
2.1Easily offended or upset: I suppose I shouldn’t be so sensitive
More example sentences
  • The guidelines dictate that emotionally charged topics be avoided on tests, for fear that mention of them might upset sensitive children.
  • O'Leary cheerfully acknowledges that his abrasive manner upsets the more sensitive among those he deals with.
  • Women would benefit enormously from this - we are very sensitive and get upset about small things, and men have no idea.
touchy, oversensitive, hypersensitive, easily offended, easily upset, easily hurt, thin-skinned, defensive;
paranoid, neurotic
informal uptight
3Kept secret or with restrictions on disclosure to avoid endangering security: he was suspected of passing sensitive information to other countries
More example sentences
  • As someone who was intimately involved in dealing with the most sensitive national security secrets out there, how big of a flap is this?
  • The Victorian Opposition has released details of what it claims is yet another breach of sensitive security information within the Victoria Police.
  • General statements that, for example, the information is sensitive security information, are inadequate to satisfy the government's burden.


A person who is believed to respond to occult influences.
Example sentences
  • Thus, the positive results demonstrated by the sensitives do not appear to have resulted from ubiquitous stereotypes regarding ghosts that caused witnesses and sensitives to respond to the locale in a concordant manner.
  • Merc believes that we sensitives should harness our powers to the good of the revolution.
  • The sensitives believed themselves capable of sensing ghosts, and that is what they attempted to do.



Pronunciation: /ˈsensədivnəs/
Example sentences
  • Thus, the Moon provides intuition and sensitiveness when positioned in a water sign, and the desire to internally experience the Sun's drive.
  • The world over, the public image of a company's brands is largely determined by its sensitiveness to environmental issues and this has successfully contributed to a marked decline in industrial pollution.
  • But many of their members have expressed discontent, and the society is showing signs of an increased sensitiveness to the issue.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'sensory'): from Old French sensitif, -ive or medieval Latin sensitivus, formed irregularly from Latin sentire 'feel'. The current senses date from the early 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sen·si·tive

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