collective unconscious


: the inherited part of the unconscious that especially in the psychoanalytic theory of Carl Gustav Jung occurs in and is shared by all the members of a people or race

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web While the songs of the Indigo Girls might be embedded firmly in our collective unconscious, the story of the band’s Amy Ray and Emily Saliers isn’t quite as well known—yet. The Editors, Town & Country, 19 Jan. 2023 Carl Jung thought the experience was related to the collective unconscious. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 18 June 2021 The whole of it is like stepping into a time machine that goes in both directions at once: to the not-so-distant past of analog America and to a post-apocalyptic, post-human world that seems to reside in the collective unconscious. Howard Fishman, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 It’s as though the film is a collective unconscious where ideas and themes tumble about and bubble to the surface via different modes of expression. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 8 July 2022 These are the universal characters that reside within our collective unconscious. Yec, Forbes, 2 June 2022 And it is driven by an effort to sanitize our collective unconscious, to make our fascination with this dreamlike image express virtues such as compassion and hope. Michael W. Clune, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Mar. 2022 So trauma sank back down into the collective unconscious once more, only to reemerge after a defeat inflicted on U.S. forces that—because of all the asymmetries of force and culture involved—couldn’t be repressed. Will Self, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Kurant is fascinated by moments in which new developments — the agricultural revolution, the invention of writing, the advent of electricity — transform humanity, rewiring both individual brains and the collective unconscious. New York Times, 12 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'collective unconscious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


translation of German kollektives Unbewusstes

First Known Use

1917, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of collective unconscious was in 1917

Dictionary Entries Near collective unconscious

Cite this Entry

“Collective unconscious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Medical Definition

collective unconscious

col·​lec·​tive unconscious kə-ˈlek-tiv- How to pronounce collective unconscious (audio)
: the genetically determined part of the unconscious that especially in the psychoanalytic theory of C. G. Jung occurs in all the members of a people or race

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