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1. Capable of perceiving with a sense or senses: Aristotle held that animals have a sensitive soul, but only humans have a rational one.
2. Responsive or capable of responding to a chemical stimulus or substance. Used especially of a cell, tissue, or organism.
a. Susceptible to slight differences or changes in the environment: a plant that is sensitive to rapid changes in temperature; heat-sensitive enzymes.
b. Readily altered by the action of an agent: film that is sensitive to light.
c. Registering slight differences or changes of condition. Used of an instrument.
a. Easily irritated: sensitive skin.
b. Predisposed to inflammation as a result of preexisting allergy or disease: People with celiac disease are sensitive to gluten.
a. Aware of or careful about the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others: The book is a sensitive treatment of a troubled friendship.
b. Easily hurt, upset, or offended: Teenagers tend to be especially sensitive about their appearance.
6. Fluctuating or tending to fluctuate, especially in price: sensitive stocks.
7. Of or relating to secret or classified information: sensitive defense data; holds a sensitive position in the State Department.
1. A sensitive person.
2. One held to be endowed with psychic or occult powers.

[Middle English, from Old French sensitif, from Medieval Latin sēnsitīvus, from Latin sēnsus, sense; see sense.]

sen′si·tive·ly adv.
sen′si·tive·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  1. Bruise easily like a ripe pear —A. C. Greene
  2. Ego … as delicate as tissue paper —Christopher Buckley
  3. Exposed as if on a raft —Joseph Conrad
  4. Felt like a shell-fish that had lost its shell —Olivia Manning
  5. Felt like a vegetable without its skin: raw and vulnerable —Laurie Colwin
  6. Felt myself exposed … as sharply as in a photograph —John Updike
  7. Gentle as milk —Sylvia Berkman
  8. Inherited sensibilities like jewels as red as rubies and blood —Janet Flanner
  9. Interpreted the episode as sensitively as an unleashed bull would —Z. Vance Wilson
  10. My sensibility begins to screech like chalk upon the blackboard scrawled —Delmore Schwartz
  11. A person who is always having her feelings hurt is about as pleasant a companion as a pebble in a shoe —Elbert Hubbard

    A non-gender specific paraphrased from the original which began with “The woman.”

  12. Sensitive as a barometer —Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  13. Sensitive as a stick of dynamite or a hand grenade —Mike Sommer
  14. [An alert horse, with ears turning and twitching to catch all sounds] sensitive as radar —Jilly Cooper
  15. Sensitive as the leaves of a silver birch —Joseph Hergesheimer
  16. Sensitive as the money market —Thomas Hardy
  17. (Taste buds as) sensitive as the skin on a mailman’s feet —Ira Wood
  18. Thick-skinned as a brontosaurus —Francis Goldwin, quoted on his sensitiveness to anything but imitations of his company’s toy dinosaurs, Wall Street Journal, June 15, 1987
  19. Touchy as a second degree burn —Harry Prince
  20. Vulnerable as one of those primitive creatures between two skins or two shells, like a lobster or a crab —David R. Slavitt
  21. (You are) vulnerable as the first buds of the maple —Marge Piercy
  22. With all her stubbornness and punch, she could be sliced like scrapple —Sharon Sheehe Stark
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.sensitiveness - sensitivity to emotional feelings (of self and others)
feeling - the experiencing of affective and emotional states; "she had a feeling of euphoria"; "he had terrible feelings of guilt"; "I disliked him and the feeling was mutual"
oversensitiveness - sensitivity leading to easy irritation or upset
sensibility - refined sensitivity to pleasurable or painful impressions; "cruelty offended his sensibility"
feelings - emotional or moral sensitivity (especially in relation to personal principles or dignity); "the remark hurt his feelings"
2.sensitiveness - (physiology) responsiveness to external stimulisensitiveness - (physiology) responsiveness to external stimuli; the faculty of sensation; "sensitivity to pain"
sensory faculty, sentiency, sentience, sense, sensation - the faculty through which the external world is apprehended; "in the dark he had to depend on touch and on his senses of smell and hearing"
acuteness - a sensitivity that is keen and highly developed; "dogs have a remarkable acuteness of smell"
hypersensitivity - extreme sensitivity
reactivity, responsiveness - responsive to stimulation
exteroception - sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body
interoception - sensitivity to stimuli originating inside of the body
photosensitivity, radiosensitivity - sensitivity to the action of radiant energy
physiology - the branch of the biological sciences dealing with the functioning of organisms
3.sensitiveness - the ability to respond to physical stimuli or to register small physical amounts or differences; "a galvanometer of extreme sensitivity"; "the sensitiveness of Mimosa leaves does not depend on a change of growth"
physical property - any property used to characterize matter and energy and their interactions
frequency response - (electronics) a curve representing the output-to-input ratio of a transducer as a function of frequency
4.sensitiveness - the ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment
antenna, feeler - sensitivity similar to that of a receptor organ; "he had a special antenna for public relations"
defensiveness - excessive sensitivity to criticism; "his defensiveness was manifested in hurt silence"; "the fear of being sued for malpractice has magnified physicians' defensiveness"
perceptiveness - the quality of insight and sympathetic understanding
ability - the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment
insensitiveness, insensitivity - the inability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. The capacity for or an act of responding to a stimulus:
2. The quality or condition of being emotionally and intuitively sensitive:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
næmi, viîkvæmni


(ˈsensitiv) adjective
1. (usually with to) strongly or easily affected (by something). sensitive skin; sensitive to light.
2. (usually with about or to) easily hurt or offended. She is very sensitive to criticism.
3. having or showing artistic good taste. a sensitive writer; a sensitive performance.
ˈsensitively adverb
ˈsensitiveness noun
ˌsensiˈtivity noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
I had read in medical books of cases of morbid nervous sensitiveness exactly similar to the case of Miss Dunross, as described by herself--and that had been enough for me.
Casaubon's ear, Dorothea's voice gave loud emphatic iteration to those muffled suggestions of consciousness which it was possible to explain as mere fancy, the illusion of exaggerated sensitiveness: always when such suggestions are unmistakably repeated from without, they are resisted as cruel and unjust.
If you will forgive me what may seem to you a piece of rudeness, I declare that the poor man is ashamed of such things with the sensitiveness of a young girl.
At last, like a courtier fawning on the royal stick that is laid about his shoulders, he prides himself on the sensitiveness of his conscience.
Nicholas understood that something must have happened between Sonya and Dolokhov before dinner, and with the kindly sensitiveness natural to him was very gentle and wary with them both at dinner.
If you had been a fellow of any sensitiveness or delicacy of feeling in that kind of way, Sydney, I might have been a little resentful of your employing such a designation; but you are not.
Yet the intrinsic quality of the event moved his touchy sensitiveness less than its conjectured effect upon the minds of others.
In his sensitiveness he saw sneers and wonderings in other fellows' manner when they were not bothering their heads with him at all.
It was altogether a new experience with him, this self-dissatisfaction and sensitiveness to criticism, which at any other time he would have regarded with a sort of insolent indifference.
He was nothing--a mere bunch of flesh and nerves and sensitiveness that crawled in the muck for gold, that dreamed and aspired and gambled, and that passed and was gone.
An animal which is hungry is restless, it goes to the places where food is often to be found, it sniffs with its nose or peers with its eyes or otherwise increases the sensitiveness of its sense-organs; as soon as it is near enough to food for its sense-organs to be affected, it goes to it with all speed and proceeds to eat; after which, if the quantity of food has been sufficient, its whole demeanour changes it may very likely lie down and go to sleep.
Rebecca's hair was loosened and falling over her forehead in ruffled waves; her eyes were brilliant, her cheeks crimson; there was a hint of everything in the girl's face,--of sensitiveness and delicacy as well as of ardor; there was the sweetness of the mayflower and the strength of the young oak, but one could easily divine that she was one of