Etymology
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sensationalism (n.)

1846 in philosophy, "theory that sensation is the only source of knowledge and ideas;" 1865 in reference to journalism, "writing or language that aims to excite the feelings," from sensational + -ism. Sensation novel is attested by 1856 (Wilkie Collins's often are cited in early examples).

Sensation novels, novels that produce their effect by exciting and often improbable situations, by taking as their groundwork some dreadful secret, some atrocious crime, or the like, and painting scenes of extreme peril, high-wrought passion, etc. [Century Dictionary]

updated on May 04, 2022

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Definitions of sensationalism from WordNet

sensationalism (n.)
subject matter that is calculated to excite and please vulgar tastes;
sensationalism (n.)
the journalistic use of subject matter that appeals to vulgar tastes;
the tabloids relied on sensationalism to maintain their circulation
Synonyms: luridness
sensationalism (n.)
(philosophy) the ethical doctrine that feeling is the only criterion for what is good;
Synonyms: sensualism
sensationalism (n.)
(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge derives from experience;
Synonyms: empiricism / empiricist philosophy
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.