sublimate

verb
sub·​li·​mate | \ ˈsə-blə-ˌmāt How to pronounce sublimate (audio) \
sublimated; sublimating

Definition of sublimate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

b archaic : to improve or refine as if by subliming
2 : to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable

intransitive verb

: to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state : sublime

sublimate

noun
sub·​li·​mate | \ ˈsə-blə-ˌmāt How to pronounce sublimate (audio) , -mət\

Definition of sublimate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a chemical product obtained by sublimation

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Other Words from sublimate

Verb

sublimation \ ˌsə-​blə-​ˈmā-​shən How to pronounce sublimation (audio) \ noun

Sublime vs. Sublimate

At first glance, the question of whether sublime and sublimate are related might seem like an easy one to answer, as they appear to come from the same source. However, the most common senses in which each of these words is used today are dissimilar enough to give pause. The two words are indeed related, and in some senses are in fact synonymous. Both share the meaning “to cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state and condense back to solid form,” although this is not widely used except among chemists. Sublime was first used as a verb with the above meaning, and after a century or two of such use took on the adjectival role in which it is often found today (“the concert was a sublime experience”). Sublimate has had several meanings as a verb (including “to elevate to a place of honor” and “to give a more elevated character to”) before coming to its common meaning today, which is “to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable.”

Did You Know?

Verb

To sublimate is to change the form, but not the essence. Physically speaking, it means to transform solid to vapor; psychologically, it means changing the outlet, or means, of expression from something base and inappropriate to something more positive or acceptable. The word sublimate comes from the Latin verb sublimare, which means "to lift up" or "raise" and which is also the ancestor of our sublime. "Sublimate" itself once meant "to elevate to a place of dignity or honor" or "to give a more elevated character to," but these meanings are now obsolete.

Examples of sublimate in a Sentence

Verb

She sublimated her erotic feelings into a series of paintings. I sublimated my grief at the death of my mother by throwing myself into my work.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Joseph wears the Commander's suit without fully sublimating his personality. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "What's The Deal With Commander Lawrence's Wife In The Handmaid's Tale?," 20 June 2019 At its best, branding can incorporate a candidate’s identity and sublimate a campaign into a movement. Avi Selk, Washington Post, "Red, white and blah: Why are these all these 2020 campaign logos so boring?," 10 June 2019 Over time, as orbital changes heated up this region, the nitrogen would start to sublimate away into the atmosphere, perhaps breaking through a water ice crust to do so. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Enigmatic ridges on Pluto may be the remains of vanished nitrogen glaciers," 17 Nov. 2018 This week, scientists proposed that some weird terrain found on Pluto could be the product of large fields of nitrogen ice sublimating off into the atmosphere. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Enigmatic ridges on Pluto may be the remains of vanished nitrogen glaciers," 17 Nov. 2018 Politics, once sublimated in her abstractions, bubbles up to the surface. James Panero, WSJ, "Seeing Her Worldview in a Circle," 1 Sep. 2018 In the 1960s, battles among boomers were mostly sublimated in the overall boomer rebellion against their elders—their authority, their ways and their war. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "The Trump War Is a Boomer Battle," 27 Aug. 2018 But that's not enough to overcome the extremely low pressures of the Martian atmosphere, which would cause any ice to sublimate off into vapor instead of melting. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Possible lake spotted under a polar ice cap—on Mars," 25 July 2018 For a long time, it was generally supposed that sports rivalries harmlessly sublimated national antagonisms. Larry Wolff, WSJ, "Croatia Offers Redemption for Eastern Europe," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An initially smooth snowpack sublimates at different rates in different spots, causing small pits to form in some places. Mike Wall, Space.com, "Jupiter Moon Europa's Jagged Ice Towers Could Imperil Robot Landers," 8 Oct. 2018 The slopes are probably being continuously exposed as the ice sublimates into the Martian atmosphere, likely to cycle up to the poles and end up frozen there. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Large sheets of ice may have been spotted on Mars," 11 Jan. 2018 An initially smooth snowpack sublimates at different rates in different spots, causing small pits to form in some places. Mike Wall, Space.com, "Jupiter Moon Europa's Jagged Ice Towers Could Imperil Robot Landers," 8 Oct. 2018 The slopes are probably being continuously exposed as the ice sublimates into the Martian atmosphere, likely to cycle up to the poles and end up frozen there. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Large sheets of ice may have been spotted on Mars," 11 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sublimate.' 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 sublimate

Verb

1559, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

circa 1626, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sublimate

Verb

Middle English, from Medieval Latin sublimatus, past participle of sublimare

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Time Traveler for sublimate

The first known use of sublimate was in 1559

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More Definitions for sublimate

sublimate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sublimate

psychology : to express a desire or feeling by changing it into a form that is socially acceptable

sublimate

noun
sub·​li·​mate | \ ˈsəb-lə-ˌmāt How to pronounce sublimate (audio) , -mət How to pronounce sublimate (audio) \

Medical Definition of sublimate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a chemical product obtained by sublimation

sublimate

transitive verb
sub·​li·​mate | \ ˈsəb-lə-ˌmāt How to pronounce sublimate (audio) \
sublimated; sublimating

Medical Definition of sublimate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : sublime
2 : to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable

More from Merriam-Webster on sublimate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sublimate

Spanish Central: Translation of sublimate

Nglish: Translation of sublimate for Spanish Speakers

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