Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Feelings and Sentiment

Feelings & Sentiment

What is the difference between ‘feelings’ and ‘sentiment’?  Both of these words are used in connection with emotions and expression of emotions.   Emotions are physiological and mental reactions that affect the thinking and behavior of a person.  ‘Feelings’ and ‘sentiment’ can be considered synonyms according to some dictionaries.  A person might even speak about their ‘feelings’ and ‘sentiments’ interchangeably.  There is a slight difference in each word’s correct usage and the exact meaning of each word.

When a person speaks about their feelings, they are referring to their overall emotional state or reactions to someone or something.  Feelings are a person’s level of sensitivity or susceptibility to impression either good or bad.  A person’s feelings also relate to their tendency to become upset about things done or said.  For example:  My wife is always talking about her feelings.  Quite often people refer to their ‘feelings being hurt’ as an expression of being upset about something.   For example:  She hurt my feelings when she said those mean things to me.

A ‘sentiment’ is a specific emotion, attitude or opinion.  Quite often it refers to an emotional expression of love, sympathy, kindness or another strong positive feeling.  For example:  The greeting card my mother sent had a really nice sentiment written in it.  It can also mean a more refined or delicate sensibility especially as expressed in an artistic sense.   For example:  The famous piece of art showed much sentiment.  Finally ‘sentiment’ can be used in a negative sense, as in overly romantic or nostalgic.  For example:  His words were filled with romantic nonsense and silly sentiment.  This meaning of the word ‘sentiment’ is where the word ‘sentimental’ comes from.  For example:  The movie was a sentimental look at the relationship between a father and a son.

So it can be said that ‘feelings’ is a general terms about one’s emotions, while ‘sentiment’ is a specific feeling or the feeling behind something.  This difference dictates each word’s usage.  Therefore, it could be correctly said by someone, “The sentiment with which she spoke touched my feelings.”  This example illustrates how the words can be used correctly when talking about one’s emotions.

However, it must be noted that sometimes these words may be used interchangeably by native English speakers when speaking about ‘feelings’ or ‘sentiments’ and meaning only a person’s thoughts or attitude.  It is correct to say:  “My feelings exactly.” or “My sentiments also.” to agree with someone and their way of thinking.  In this sense, the words are not used to speak about strong emotions, merely specific thoughts or opinions.

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1 Comment

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[0]Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feeling#mediaviewer/File:Sensitiva_(Miquel_Blay,_MRABASF_E-76)_01.jpg



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