sensibility (n.)

late 14c., "capability of being perceived by the physical senses;" also "ability to sense or perceive" (pain, etc.), from Old French sensibilite (14c.), from Late Latin sensibilitatem (nominative sensibilitas), from sensibilis "having feeling: perceptible by the senses," from sensus, past participle of sentire "perceive, feel" (see sense (n.)).

From early 15c. as "understanding, perception." A rare word in the record of English until the emergence 18c. of the meaning "emotional consciousness" (1751), especially "capacity for higher feelings or refined emotion." In English by early 20c. this refinement was felt to have reached such degree of excellence as required a French form, sensibilité. Related: Sensibilities.

updated on May 04, 2022