Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[sen-sey-shuh-nl-iz-uh m] /sɛnˈseɪ ʃə nlˌɪz əm/
subject matter, language, or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.
the use of or interest in this subject matter, language, or style:
The cheap tabloids relied on sensationalism to increase their circulation.
  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.
Psychology, sensationism.
1840-50; sensational + -ism
Related forms
sensationalist, noun, adjective
sensationalistic, adjective
nonsensationalistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for sensationalism
  • In general, the crowding of the market encourages shallow sensationalism, not consideration and depth.
  • sensationalism and speculation aside, no company is free of bad employees, or poor managers for that matter.
  • Great article, informative and free of any sensationalism.
  • His weaknesses are for sentimentality and sensationalism.
  • Yes, it's a crazy thing, but she's not interested in sensationalism.
  • Look began as a tabloid-style magazine that emphasized sports, movie stars, and sensationalism.
  • Consideration should be given to the potential for public concern and misunderstanding and sensationalism.
  • The public is bombarded by falsehoods and sensationalism.
  • Today's hearing is not meant to focus blame, or to concentrate on tragedies for the sake of sensationalism.
  • They take statements out of context, don't bother to check facts, and care only about sensationalism.
British Dictionary definitions for sensationalism


the use of sensational language, etc, to arouse an intense emotional response
such sensational matter itself
(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
(psychol) the theory that all experience and mental life may be explained in terms of sensations and remembered images
(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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for sensationalism

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
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for 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
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for sensationalism

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sensationalism

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with sensationalism

Nearby words for sensationalism