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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 pensiveness
Historical Examples
  • There is always a shade of melancholy, a tinge of pensiveness, a touch of pathos, in all profound rest.

  • Often have I reflected on it; sometimes with pensiveness, with sadness never.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • The dignity of her bearing was lost in household ease, the pensiveness of her expression in an untroubled serene sweetness.

    The Parisians, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • But Salvator was capable of pensiveness, of faith, and of fear.'

    Art in England Dutton Cook
  • "Pardon my abstraction," he said, a shade of pensiveness still lingering in his voice.

    The Diamond Coterie Lawrence L. Lynch
  • "I cry you mercy," said Warner, with something of sarcasm in his pensiveness of tone.

    The Disowned, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The look of pensiveness on Joes face changed into one of longing.

    A Tale of the Tow-Path Homer Greene
  • Even the pensiveness of the story—the sadness of love unsatisfied—is mellow.

    Thomas Hardy's Dorset Robert Thurston Hopkins
  • There is not a melancholy strain in all his works; pensiveness was as deep a note as he could strike.

  • In this her prime of existence and bloom of beauty they but subdued vivacity to pensiveness.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
British Dictionary definitions for pensiveness


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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pensiveness



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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