psy·che | \ ˈsī-kē \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for psyche


brain, cerebrum, head, mind, thinker

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

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

In his interview with Tori Telfer, Issac Bailey talks about how his beloved oldest brother’s incarceration scarred his childhood psyche. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "This Month in Books: ‘What Used To Be Me Before the World Buried It’," 10 July 2018 And yet, the Pre-Raphaelites’ insatiable appetite for realistic detail, lurid color and, above all, passion for romantic story are deeply ingrained in the public psyche as ideals in art. Charles Desmarais,, "‘Truth and Beauty’ at Legion of Honor: Pure visual pleasure of an idiosyncratic style," 29 June 2018 Which perhaps explains why such qualities are not only instilled in Hallgrimsson's psyche, but also those of his players. James Masters, CNN, "'It's in blood, the nature and the culture.' Iceland's hard World Cup work pays off," 15 June 2018 Cris Beam, a professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey, believes that empathy is ingrained in the psyche from birth. Neil Senturia,, "Companies need to train managers and executives in the skill of empathy," 11 June 2018 Laemmle had started what became the star system; soon, the cult of film celebrity would take root in the global psyche. Margaret Heidenry, HWD, "Introducing Florence Lawrence, Hollywood’s Forgotten First Movie Star," 25 May 2018 The fighting spirit is engrained in a group of players whose psyche was forged growing up in a country ravaged by war as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s. Rob Harris,, "Three reasons why Croatia will win the World Cup final," 14 July 2018 For, though that may not be visible at the moment, even the psyche must somehow be manifested physically in the brain and its debilitations must thus be recognisable. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018 This week, our nation’s psyche was rocked yet again with news — and video — of how Antwon Rose, a 17 year-old black American teenager, was fatally shot in the back by police while fleeing a traffic stop. Alexander Tsai, STAT, "When police officers kill unarmed blacks, it affects blacks’ mental health across the country," 27 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of psyche

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for psyche

Latin, from Greek psychē soul

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about psyche

Statistics for psyche

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for psyche

The first known use of psyche was in 1590

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on psyche

What made you want to look up psyche? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!