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[in-sen-si-tiv] /ɪnˈsɛn sɪ tɪv/
deficient in human sensibility, acuteness of feeling, or consideration; unfeeling; callous:
an insensitive person.
not physically sensitive:
insensitive skin.
not affected by physical or chemical agencies or influences:
insensitive to light.
not readily responsive or aware:
insensitive to the needs of the peasants.
Origin of insensitive
1600-10; in-3 + sensitive
Related forms
insensitiveness, insensitivity, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for insensitive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He went out with a fire at his heart that made him insensitive to the frost without.

  • Calhoun drew a sample of blood from the insensitive area on Murgatroyd's flank.

    Pariah Planet Murray Leinster
  • A preparation thus made is insensitive at the beginning, but if left undisturbed it slowly recovers its excitability.

    Life Movements in Plants Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose
  • So this that quivered in his thick fingers, too insensitive to feel it, was a valentine for him!

    Five Tales John Galsworthy
  • They pierce the hide of the thickest and dullest; they startle and bewilder the brains of the most crass and the most insensitive.

    Suspended Judgments John Cowper Powys
British Dictionary definitions for insensitive


lacking sensitivity; unfeeling
lacking physical sensation
(postpositive) foll by to. not sensitive (to) or affected (by): insensitive to radiation
Derived Forms
insensitively, adverb
insensitiveness, insensitivity, noun
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 insensitive

c.1600, "having little or no reaction to what is perceived by one's senses," from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + sensitive. For sense, see insensate. Meaning "without consideration for the feelings of others" attested by 1975. Related: Insensitively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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