What are the adjective counterparts for "sense" and "sensibility" as in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility?

Would the one for "sensibility" be "sensible"?

What is the one for "sense"? Does it have the same meaning as "rational"?

  • 1
    I think OP has the first pairing wrong. The adjectival counterparts of the novel title are sense:sensible and sensibility:[emotionally] sensitive. Sep 21, 2011 at 16:02
  • How does "sensible" mean the opposite of "sensibility"?
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2011 at 16:05
  • I assumed by "adjective counterpart" you simply meant the adjectival forms corresponding to the two nouns in the book title. Which I understand as a play on words where sense refers to rational decision-making, and sensibility refers to the emotions which may run counter to that rationalism. That's the only kind of "opposite" I see here. Sep 21, 2011 at 17:19
  • @Tim: He didn't say opposite, just incorrect.
    – Daniel
    Sep 21, 2011 at 17:30

2 Answers 2


The word sensible is an adjective counterpart to both words.

From Merriam-Webster:

3b: emotionally aware and responsive [we are sensible of your problems]
4: having, containing, or indicative of good sense or reason : rational, reasonable [sensible people] [made a sensible answer]

So 3b: corresponds to sensibility and 4: corresponds to sense. Isn't English a wonderful language?

  • 1
    Yes and no. No because it is confusing.
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2011 at 16:09
  • Can I add a virtual :-) to my answer? Sep 21, 2011 at 16:13
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    I am sensible of the fact that you find this sensible.
    – JeffSahol
    Sep 21, 2011 at 16:14
  • @JeffSahol: Now you confuse me. Peter: As you please. :)
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2011 at 16:16
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    @Peter: I think you've made pretty much the same distinction I was getting at in my comment to the question. The problem, as evidenced by Jeff's comment above, is that both sense and sensibility have a range of potential meanings. Lucky for Austen, as it gave her the chance to create a memorable book title wherein we're invited to consider a particular pair of those meanings which can (given the right novel as context) be seen as opposites. Sep 21, 2011 at 17:26

Meaning may have shifted since the novel was written, but I think you are right about "sense" being "rational". "Sensibility" corresponds to "perceptive" or "sensitive".

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