late 14c., "capable of sensation or feeling;" also "capable of being sensed or felt, perceptible to the senses," hence "perceptible to the mind, easily understood; logical, reasonable," from Old French sensible and directly from Late Latin sensibilis "having feeling: perceptible by the senses," from sensus, past participle of sentire "to perceive, feel" (see sense (n.)).
Of persons, from c. 1400 as "capable of mental perception, having good sense, clever, discerning;" by early 15c. as "aware, cognizant (of something)." Of actions, discourse, etc., "marked by or proceeding from (good) sense," 1650s. In reference to clothes, shoes, etc., "practical rather than fashionable," it is attested from 1855.
Other Middle English senses included "susceptible to injury or pain" (early 15c., common through 18c., now gone with sensitive); "worldly, temporal, outward" (c. 1400); "carnal, unspiritual" (early 15c., now gone with sensual). Related: Sensibleness.
updated on May 05, 2022