Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sensibility

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is sensibility. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Sensibility refers to an awareness of and responsiveness toward something, such as another person’s emotions. It can also refer to the ability to feel and understand emotions, or to acuteness of feeling.

// She was hired as the organization’s graphic designer thanks to her creative sensibilities.


“Developing recipes, like developing photos, requires a discerning sensibility and sophisticated taste, and Atakora possesses both in spades.” — Arsh Raziuddin, Bon Appétit, 1 July 2022

Did You Know?

The meanings of sensibility run the gamut from mere sensation to excessive sentimentality. In between is a capacity for delicate appreciation, a sense often pluralized. In Jane Austen’s books, sensibility is mostly an admirable quality she attributes to, or finds 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.”

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