Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Engaged in deep and serious thought.
  • adjective Showing or expressing deep, often melancholy thought.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Engaged in serious thought or reflection; given to earnest musing: often implying some degree of anxiety, depression, or gloom; thoughtful and somewhat melancholy.
  • Expressing thoughtfulness with sadness; betokening or conducive to thoughtful or earnest musing.
  • Synonyms Meditative, reflective, sober.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Thoughtful, sober, or sad; employed in serious reflection; given to, or favorable to, earnest or melancholy musing.
  • adjective Expressing or suggesting thoughtfulness with sadness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having the appearance of deep, often melancholic, thinking.
  • adjective Looking thoughtful, especially from sadness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective deeply or seriously thoughtful
  • adjective showing pensive sadness

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English pensif, from Old French, from penser, to think, from Latin pēnsāre, frequentative of pendere, to weigh; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French pensif ("thoughtful"), from the verb penser ("to think") by adding suffix -if (English -ive), from Latin pēnsō.

Examples

  • Also in this family of Latin verbs is pēnsāre, as in “to weigh with the mind,” “to think,” as captured in the English word pensive.

    The English Is Coming!

  • Also in this family of Latin verbs is pēnsāre, as in “to weigh with the mind,” “to think,” as captured in the English word pensive.

    The English Is Coming!

  • She stared out at the night, silent, her expression pensive.

    My Soul to Keep

  • And in pensive but upbeat flashbacks woven into the play's time-traveling format, Lonnie's father and mother (Reid and Quander) lovingly tease each other and their children.

    Theater review of 'Locomotion' at the Kennedy Center Family Theater

  • Me nec fæmina nec puer, &c., says Horace in pensive mood.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • His expression pensive, the dwarf studied the general's straight, well-armored back.

    Flint, the King

  • Jett glanced up and discovered that Kathleen was on her feet, the blanket draped loosely around her, her expression pensive as she looked down at him.

    Wild Blood

  • He had even glanced up from his Bible Sunday at the meeting house to find her sitting cross-legged on the dirt floor, her expression pensive, her cheek resting against Dani's sleek head.

    Once An Angel

  • His expression pensive, the dwarf studied the general's straight, well-armored back.

    Flint the King

  • "Yes, she is usually very quick," replied Mrs. Gay gently, while she gathered all the forces of her character, which were slightly disorganized by her recent indulgence in pensive musings, to do battle against an idea which she had striven repeatedly of late to banish from her thoughts.

    The Miller of Old Church

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