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[pen-siv] /ˈpɛn sɪv/
dreamily or wistfully thoughtful:
a pensive mood.
expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness:
a pensive adagio.
Origin of pensive
1325-75; < French (feminine); replacing Middle English pensif < Middle French (masculine), derivative of penser to think < Latin pēnsāre to weigh, consider, derivative of pēnsus, past participle of pendere. See pension, -ive
Related forms
pensively, adverb
pensiveness, noun
overpensive, adjective
overpensively, adverb
overpensiveness, noun
1. P ensive , meditative , reflective suggest quiet modes of apparent or real thought. P ensive , the weakest of the three, suggests dreaminess or wistfulness, and may involve little or no thought to any purpose: a pensive, faraway look. M editative involves thinking of certain facts or phenomena, perhaps in the religious sense of “contemplation,” without necessarily having a goal of complete understanding or of action: meditative but unjudicial. R eflective has a strong implication of orderly, perhaps analytic, processes of thought, usually with a definite goal of understanding: a careful and reflective critic.
1. thoughtless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pensive
  • This pensive study explores work not as an economic or sociological phenomenon but as an existential predicament.
  • Darwin may have been that kind of contemplative and pensive antiauthoritarian.
  • He is in a pensive mood.
  • The pensive slow movement was beautifully restrained.
  • In pensive solitude, he wrote the poems; in the steamy chaos of the kitchen, his womenfolk made the poems possible.
  • He is pensive about the complexities of modern life, particularly (though not exclusively) in rural settings.
  • One is pensive, turned inward.
  • Lest the mood get too pensive, the designer took his bow dressed in a rabbit suit.
  • She walked away from the session newly pensive.
  • But the film, while pensive enough to hint at these things, isn't so morose that it cares to dwell on them.
British Dictionary definitions for pensive


deeply or seriously thoughtful, often with a tinge of sadness
expressing or suggesting pensiveness
Derived Forms
pensively, adverb
pensiveness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pensif, from penser to think, from Latin pensāre to consider; compare pension1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pensive

late 14c., from Old French pensif "thoughtful, distracted, musing" (11c.), from penser "to think," from Latin pensare "weigh, consider," frequentative of pendere "weigh" (see pendant). Related: Pensively; pensiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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