psy·​che ˈsī-kē How to pronounce psyche (audio)
capitalized : a princess loved by Cupid
[Greek psychē]
: soul, personality
the nation's consumer psycheD. J. Kevles
: 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

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.

Example Sentences

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 From the strain on your body to the burden on your psyche — many landscape artists shoulder the responsibility of sending money to their families back home. Julissa James, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2023 Why is there a hole in your heart and psyche a mile wide? Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 4 May 2023 Because that's just the psyche and the programming of our communities. Matt Thompson, SPIN, 1 May 2023 And with inflation not cooling as fast as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell hoped, the risks of additional interest rate hikes continue to wreak havoc with the collective psyches of corporate chieftains. William Pesek, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 In her 2020 campaign, the Democrat called for a federal Department of Peace, supported reparations for slavery and called Trumpism a symptom of an illness in the American psyche that could not be cured with political policies. Michael C. Bender, New York Times, 18 Apr. 2023 The Joe Goldberg psyche — hopeless romantic who kills in the name of love — will not be new to fans of the series. Karin Tanabe, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2023 According to Arden, deciphering the psyches of the tigers could also make these breathtaking but dangerous big cats more relatable. Byjack Tamisiea,, 4 Apr. 2023 Twenty-five percent unemployment, no safety net, widespread hunger and hopelessness — a soul crushing trauma that scarred the psyche of the Greatest Generation more than World War II. Thomas Doherty, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'psyche.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, from Greek psychē soul

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of psyche was in 1590

Dictionary Entries Near psyche

Cite this Entry

“Psyche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

Medical Definition


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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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