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sensationalism

[sen-sey-shuh-nl-iz-uh m] /sɛnˈseɪ ʃə nlˌɪz əm/
noun
1.
subject matter, language, or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.
2.
the use of or interest in this subject matter, language, or style:
The cheap tabloids relied on sensationalism to increase their circulation.
3.
Philosophy.
  1. the doctrine that the good is to be judged only by the gratification of the senses.
  2. the doctrine that all ideas are derived from and are essentially reducible to sensations.
4.
Psychology, sensationism.
Origin
1840-1850
1840-50; sensational + -ism
Related forms
sensationalist, noun, adjective
sensationalistic, adjective
nonsensationalistic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for sensationalist
  • But tales of their savagery and wiliness don't all come from sensationalist authors looking to make a buck.
  • Fly ash being radioactive is bad, why you have to spoil reporting that fact with sensationalist and misleading article.
  • They seem to have jumped on the band wagon of the popular sensationalist press.
  • The sensationalist language in the headline is unacceptable.
  • The article is a little sensationalist but does not miss the point all together.
  • Agree with other posters as to somewhat sensationalist nature of this little blurb.
  • Except that your sensationalist figures are getting ever more bizarre.
  • Evolution has its complications, but it's not so far out of reach that this sensationalist statement should ever have been made.
  • You'll be happy to know that the online media is already twisting the facts with their usual lazy and sensationalist methods.
  • According to the bonehead editor who came up with this sensationalist headline, returned veterans are ticking bombs.
British Dictionary definitions for sensationalist

sensationalism

/sɛnˈseɪʃənəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
the use of sensational language, etc, to arouse an intense emotional response
2.
such sensational matter itself
3.
(philosophy) Also called sensualism
  1. the doctrine that knowledge cannot go beyond the analysis of experience
  2. (ethics) the doctrine that the ability to gratify the senses is the only criterion of goodness
4.
(psychol) the theory that all experience and mental life may be explained in terms of sensations and remembered images
5.
(aesthetics) the theory of the beauty of sensuality in the arts
Also called (for senses 3, 4) sensationism
Derived Forms
sensationalist, noun, adjective
sensationalistic, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sensationalist

1846 in philosophy; 1868 of writers; from sensational + -ist. Related: Sensationalistic.

sensationalism

n.

1846 in philosophy, "theory that sensation is the only source of knowledge;" 1865, of journalism that aims to excite the feelings, from sensational + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for sensationalist

sensationalism

in epistemology and psychology, a form of Empiricism that limits experience as a source of knowledge to sensation or sense perceptions. Sensationalism is a consequence of the notion of the mind as a tabula rasa, or "clean slate." In ancient Greek philosophy, the Cyrenaics, proponents of a pleasure ethic, subscribed unreservedly to a sensationalist doctrine. The medieval Scholastics' maxim that "there is nothing in the mind but what was previously in the senses" must be understood with Aristotelian reservations that sense data are converted into concepts. The Empiricism of the 17th century, however-exemplified by Pierre Gassendi, a French neo-Epicurean, and by the Englishmen Thomas Hobbes and John Locke-put a greater emphasis on the role of the senses, in reaction against the followers of Rene Descartes who stressed the mind's faculty of reasoning. Locke's influence on 18th-century French philosophy produced the extreme sensationnisme (or, less often, sensualisme) of Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, who contended that "all our faculties come from the senses or . . . more precisely, from sensations"; that "our sensations are not the very qualities of objects [but] only modifications of our soul"; and that attention is only the sensation's occupancy of the mind, memory the retention of sensation, and comparison a twofold attention.

Learn more about sensationalism with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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