American English

Definition of sensitive adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    to people's feelings
  1. 1aware of and able to understand other people and their feelings a sensitive and caring man sensitive to something She is very sensitive to other people's feelings. opposite insensitive Which Word?sensible / sensitive Sensible and sensitive are connected with two different meanings of sense. Sensible refers to your ability to make good judgments:She gave me some very sensible advice. It wasn’t very sensible to go out on your own so late at night. Sensitive refers to how easily you react to things and how much you are aware of things or other people:a soap for sensitive skin This movie may upset a sensitive child.
  2. to art/music/literature
  3. 2able to understand art, music, and literature and to express yourself through them an actor's sensitive reading of the poem a sensitive portrait
  4. easily upset
  5. 3easily offended or upset You're far too sensitive. sensitive about something He's very sensitive about his weight. sensitive to something She's very sensitive to criticism. opposite insensitive
  6. information/subject
  7. 4that you have to treat with great care because it may offend people or make them angry Health care is a politically sensitive issue. That's a sensitive area.
  8. to cold/light/food, etc.
  9. 5reacting quickly or more than usual to something sensitive areas of the body sensitive to something My teeth are very sensitive to cold food. light-sensitive paper The eyes of some fish are acutely sensitive to light. opposite insensitive
  10. to small changes
  11. 6sensitive (to something) able to measure very small changes a sensitive instrument The eyes can be a sensitive indicator of health. (figurative) The Stock Exchange is very sensitive to political change. opposite insensitive
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adverb She handled the matter sensitively. He writes sensitively.
hit/touch a (raw/sensitive) nerve
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2to mention a subject that makes someone feel angry, upset, embarrassed, etc. You touched a raw nerve when you mentioned his first wife.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: sensitive