psy·​che | \ ˈsī-kē How to pronounce psyche (audio) \

Definition of psyche

1 capitalized : a princess loved by Cupid
2 [Greek psychē]
a : soul, personality the nation's consumer psyche— D. J. Kevles
b : the totality of elements forming the mind (see mind entry 1 sense 2) specifically, in Freudian psychoanalytic theory : the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components

Synonyms for psyche


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Sometime back in the 16th century, we borrowed the word psyche directly from Greek into English. In Greek mythology, Psyche was a beautiful princess who fell in love with Eros (Cupid), god of love, and went through terrible trials before being allowed to marry him. The story is often understood to be about the soul redeeming itself through love. (To the Greeks, psyche also meant "butterfly", which suggests how they imagined the soul.) In English, psyche often sounds less spiritual than soul, less intellectual than mind, and more private than personality.

Examples of psyche in a Sentence

some hidden corner within your psyche disturbing, enigmatic paintings that seem to embody the psyche of this brilliant but troubled artist
Recent Examples on the Web Well, how about putting the most impulsive part of your psyche on display for the whole neighborhood? Johanna Gohmann, The New Yorker, 23 Dec. 2021 It’s in not just her love of true-crime content, but in the psyche behind it all. Andy Meek, BGR, 11 Dec. 2021 So while Tcherniakov might have been most interested in the psyche of an angry and vengeful man, the only character who truly changes — and, indeed, matures — in his staging is Senta. New York Times, 26 July 2021 In the spring of 2019, this potent conduit for liberating one’s innermost struggles and yearnings worked itself in the psyche of Carlos López Estrada. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2021 This great Georgia rapper appears to form his favorite lyrics in spontaneous blurts of ecstasy, then commits to them completely, drilling them into our psyche with relentless repetition, daring us to feel inured. Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2021 Sondheim long resisted the idea that any of his work offered a read into his own psyche, and elements of his own identity—his sexuality, his Jewishness—are defiantly absent from his art. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 30 Nov. 2021 Lee, who is interested in how someone’s home mirrors their psyche, didn’t leave his house for weeks during lockdown. Diana Budds, Curbed, 25 Nov. 2021 Big plays are, though, and that 10.6-yard average started to do something to his psyche. Nate Atkins, The Indianapolis Star, 25 Nov. 2021

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

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First Known Use of psyche

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for psyche

Latin, from Greek psychē soul

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Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Psyche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for psyche



English Language Learners Definition of psyche

: the soul, mind, or personality of a person or group


psy·​che | \ ˈsī-(ˌ)kē How to pronounce psyche (audio) \

Medical Definition of psyche

: the specialized cognitive, conative, and affective aspects of a psychosomatic unity : mind specifically : the totality of the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components

More from Merriam-Webster on psyche

Nglish: Translation of psyche for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of psyche for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about psyche


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