Definition of insensibility in English:



  • 1mass noun Unconsciousness.

    ‘I flogged him into insensibility’
    • ‘British soldiers often drank themselves into insensibility in the ‘wet canteen’.’
    • ‘When the chickens pass through it, in theory, it shocks them into insensibility and immobilizes them.’
    • ‘The only option is to drug her into insensibility and unconsciousness.’
    • ‘Having bartered away his waistcoat, shirt, and stockings, and drank until he is in a state of total insensibility, he is a perfect skeleton.’
    • ‘Only a romantic school girl would drug herself into insensibility.’
    • ‘As the Burns report says: ‘in the vast majority of cases the time [from capture] to insensibility and death is no more than a few seconds’ - to which one may add that this is a better deal than a wild animal can normally expect.’
    • ‘Wherever a Jew was met he was savagely beaten into insensibility.’
    • ‘In my view best practice is based on the definition that we had earlier that it is least disturbance of the animal in its natural environment and it is the most rapid route to insensibility.’
    • ‘He faded into insensibility, and passed from his blameless life on 12 February 1804, unaccompanied by his former intellectual powers.’
    • ‘But there were those who faced a more protracted end: numbed into insensibility after days of clinging to a raft or boat in the stormy north Atlantic.’
    • ‘My first three times back to work I came home to find him in varying degrees of insensibility from drink.’
    • ‘What it was hoped to achieve was to reduce the time to insensibility as far as was practical, not instantaneous insensibility, but what was practical under those conditions.’
    • ‘Such cut severs all the great blood vessels of the neck, and produces instantaneous insensibility in the animal.’
    • ‘The other two potentialities described in the Sankhya philosophy, rajas, physical dynamism and tamas, insensibility, are rendered ineffective.’
    • ‘The conference social life was its usual nightmare - all these fat birds dancing round their handbags and their blokes drinking themselves into insensibility.’
    • ‘In a proportion of cases it results from massive injuries to the chest and vital organs, although insensibility and death will normally follow within a matter of seconds once the fox is caught.’
    • ‘It is an effective process which induces immediate unconsciousness and insensibility or an induction to a period of unconsciousness without distress.’
    unconsciousness, stupor, oblivion, inertia
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Inability to be moved emotionally.
      ‘Lady Grafton's insensibility bordered on cruelty’
      • ‘Thank the Gods for a woman like her - with the addled sanity of palace life, and my own befuddling emotions, she is sense in the face of total insensibility.’
      • ‘Giovanni's rage was quelled into an aspect of sullen insensibility.’
      • ‘It was obvious now… each time I thought about my relationship with Kiley, I justified it by Carter's insensibility.’
      • ‘Her spokeswoman said: ‘Ms Andrews firmly believes that while the entire world is in mourning, it would be an expression of insensibility on her part to participate in a festive act.’’
      • ‘His usual sullen insensibility is disrupted by unpredictable explosions of rage.’
  • 2Lack of awareness or concern; indifference.

    ‘your insensibility to the extreme importance of the mission we are on’
    • ‘Kitsch, using for raw material the debased and academicized simulacra of genuine culture, welcomes and cultivates this insensibility.’
    • ‘The ongoing investigation by police and other related agencies is unveiling, as expected, shocking facts about our insensibility to safety measures at the mass-transit system used by millions of commuters every day.’
    • ‘His eventual recourse to a standard of five argues indifference or insensibility.’
    • ‘Who can say it has not its energies of reason and of will in some unknown sphere, quite consistently with the reality of its insensibility to the external world?’
    • ‘Critic Geoffrey Hartman has recently described the impact of suffering on collective consciousness in the late twentieth century as ‘the progress of insensibility, or future non-shock.’’
    • ‘I despised myself, accused myself in turn of insensibility, superficiality, of disrespect.’
    • ‘Or if they have witnessed the cruelties of slavery, by remaining silent spectators they have naturally become callous - an insensibility has ensued which prepares them to apologize even for barbarity.’
    • ‘In contrast to anaesthesia, which signifies loss of feeling - including such sensations as heat and cold, consciousness being optional - the Oxford English Dictionary defines analgesia as insensibility to pain; painlessness.’
    • ‘In our behaviour, there is an increased insensibility and a frightening decrease of civility, decency and sense of justice.’
    • ‘The presence of evil should provoke a righteous anger, which if absent constitutes a sinful insensibility…’
    • ‘But Prospero's insensibility to the nonhuman processes not merely behind and beyond the battlements, is ‘immune’ - as Prynne once wrote of the rain - ‘to all denial’.’
    • ‘By this time, we've learned that a willed insensibility was one of Brahms's characteristic traits, one which he used to fend off bits of the world he didn't like.’
    • ‘Other animals, which, on account of their interests having been neglected by the insensibility of the ancient jurists, stand degraded into the class of things.’
    • ‘This produces a chilling assessment of a future of surplus insensibility.’


Late Middle English: partly from Old French insensibilite or late Latin insensibilitas (from in- ‘not’ + Latin sensibilis ‘sensible’, from sensus ‘sense’), partly from in- ‘without’ + sensibility.