Meaning of “sensitive” in the English Dictionary

"sensitive" in British English

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sensitiveadjective

uk /ˈsen.sɪ.tɪv/ us /ˈsen.sə.t̬ɪv/

sensitive adjective (UPSET)

B2 easily upset by the things people say or do, or causing people to be upset, embarrassed, or angry:

Her reply showed that she was very sensitive to criticism.
He was very sensitive about his scar and thought everyone was staring at him.

B2 A sensitive subject, situation, etc. needs to be dealt with carefully in order to avoid upsetting people:

Sex education and birth control are sensitive issues.

More examples

  • Don't be so sensitive!
  • She's very sensitive about her weight.
  • He's very sensitive to criticism of his children.
  • I have to be very careful with what I say because she's so sensitive.
  • If I'd known how sensitive she was I wouldn't have made the remark.

sensitive adjective (KIND)

B2 understanding what other people need, and being helpful and kind to them:

Representatives of the company claim their plan will be sensitive to local needs.
In the movie, he plays a concerned and sensitive father trying to bring up two teenage children on his own.

More examples

  • You have to be quite sensitive when you're dealing with adolescents.
  • It needs someone a bit sensitive to handle this sort of thing.
  • She's very sweet and sensitive.
  • He's not the most sensitive of people.
  • These are vulnerable people - you have to be sensitive to their needs.
-sensitive
suffix uk / -sen.sɪ.tɪv/ us / -sen.sə.t̬ɪv/

light-/heat-sensitive
sensitively
adverb uk /ˈsen.sɪ.tɪv.li/ us /ˈsen.sə.t̬ɪv.li/

This is a very delicate situation and it needs to be handled sensitively.
sensitiveness
noun [ U ] uk /ˈsen.sɪ.tɪv.nəs/ us /ˈsen.sə.t̬ɪv.nəs/

(Definition of “sensitive” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sensitive" in American English

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sensitiveadjective

us /ˈsen·sə·t̬ɪv/

sensitive adjective (UNDERSTANDING)

having or showing awareness and understanding, esp. of other people’s feelings and needs:

My experience made me very sensitive to the suffering of others.

sensitive adjective (UPSET)

(of a person) easily upset:

Tom is extremely sensitive about his hair.
She’s very sensitive to criticism.

sensitive adjective (REACTING EASILY)

easily influenced, changed, or damaged, esp. by a physical activity or effect:

an environmentally sensitive river
Their products include cleansers and moisturizers for sensitive skin.

sensitive adjective (NEEDING CAREFUL TREATMENT)

needing to be treated with care or secrecy:

Raising fuel prices can be a sensitive issue.

(Definition of “sensitive” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"sensitive" in Business English

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sensitiveadjective

uk /ˈsensɪtɪv/ us

easily influenced or affected by something:

This sector is more likely to be more price sensitive than the domestic sector.
economically sensitive
sensitive to sth Investors were increasingly sensitive to interest rates.

used to describe a subject, situation, etc. that needs to be dealt with carefully or kept secret:

The secret service has acknowledged that there's classified and sensitive information that they are not able to tell the public.
sensitive documents
sensitive email

understanding what other people need, and being helpful to them:

sensitive to sth A local board could be more sensitive to the education needs of students.

(Definition of “sensitive” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)