pen·sive (pnsv) KEY
Middle English pensif, from Old French, from penser, to think, from Latin pnsre, frequentative of pendere, to weigh; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots
pensive, contemplative, reflective, meditative, thoughtful
These adjectives mean characterized by or disposed to thought, especially serious or deep thought. Pensive often connotes a wistful, dreamy, or sad quality: "while pensive poets painful vigils keep" (Alexander Pope). Contemplative implies slow directed consideration, often with conscious intent of achieving better understanding or spiritual or aesthetic enrichment: "The Contemplative Atheist is rare ... And yet they seem to be more than they are" (Francis Bacon). Reflective suggests careful analytical deliberation, as in reappraising past experience: "Cromwell was of the active, not the reflective temper" (John Morley). Meditative implies earnest sustained thought: The scholar was reticent, aloof, and meditative. Thoughtful can refer to absorption in thought or to the habit of reflection and circumspection: Thoughtful voters carefully considered the candidates.