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

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Synonyms for psyche


brain, cerebrum, head, mind, thinker

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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

The impact that Ralph Lauren has had on our very psyche, on our hopes and dreams, is immeasurable. Whitney Robinson, ELLE Decor, "Celebrating Ralph Lauren’s Legacy at the Iconic Double RL Ranch in Colorado," 10 Oct. 2018 MasculinFéminin expresses different states of the female psyche and explores a broad spectrum of universal human emotions. Amy Louise Bailey, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Feminist Artists Are Staging Their Own Protests with Paint," 6 Feb. 2017 Camille’s wounded psyche isn’t an easy place to be, and Adams’s quiet, sullen presence somehow conveys Camille’s frantic unease both in Wind Gap and in her own body. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 Bronson encouraged his wife and daughters to join and built Louisa a desk at a time when writing was considered by scientists to be injurious to the female psyche. Washington Post, "‘Little Women’ and author Alcott resonate 150 years later," 12 June 2018 But in Trump’s twisted psyche, the connection made all the sense in the world. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Rule of Law Is Crumbling Further Each Day Under Trump," 10 June 2018 During the time the play opened and the movie was released, Stonewall happened and what was a revolutionary, unprecedented exploration of the gay male psyche became a reductive and somewhat backward looking romp through these characters’ lives. Charles Mcnulty,, "'Boys in the Band': Joe Mantello and Zachary Quinto on the redemption of a notorious gay play," 8 June 2018 Part of the process of massaging players’ psyches while pushing them to work harder has been a commitment on Hurley’s part — to the players who want to stay. Dom Amore,, "Dan Hurley's Way: Healing Before Hammering At UConn," 30 May 2018 Obvious trauma fringes many of the psyches in this book, but pain never bubbles outward, into violence. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Masters of Contradiction," 24 May 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.

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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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Statistics for psyche

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for psyche

The first known use of psyche was in 1590

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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 \

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

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