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 For Wade Williams, Saugus’ video teacher, throwing himself into the project has also been a way to sublimate difficult feelings. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "A year after Saugus shooting, students look back as they move forward," 14 Nov. 2020 Hartley is even willing to sublimate his ego, especially if Willis joins Kevin in an action movie. Dan Snierson, EW.com, "Bruce Willis, Judi Dench, and Matt Damon on This Is Us actors' guest-star wish list," 29 June 2020 Salt lowers the melting temperature of ice, so under these conditions, water ice sitting atop the briny soils immediately begins to melt first before sublimating away into the atmosphere. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "While We Get Snow During Our Winter, Martians May Get Salty Water During Theirs," 13 Feb. 2020 During the rest of the year, water ice that forms quickly sublimates into the atmosphere, leaving no liquid behind. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "While We Get Snow During Our Winter, Martians May Get Salty Water During Theirs," 13 Feb. 2020 Like a composer sublimating emotion into a musical structure with a beginning, middle and end, Matisse wanted to mobilize our eyes over the entire picture. Washington Post, "Bathers With a Turtle, 1907-08," 26 Feb. 2020 In other movies, the sin sublimated into devastation is war. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Why You Should Watch Movies About Pandemics, During Pandemics," 18 Mar. 2020 In those pictures, the pianist’s shoulders are contorted, hunched in effort, art sublimating pain. Brendan Fitzgerald, Longreads, "“I miss my body when it was ferocious” The Transfiguration of Paul Curreri," 14 Mar. 2020 Yet, that also accounts for Cousins sublimating his role along with Durant, Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "How might Kevin Durant’s injury impact his free agency?," 12 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When the climate is a bit warmer, parts of the methane ice sublimate away, heading straight back to gas form, according to the new study. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, "Scientists Explain Pluto's Skyscraper-Size Ice Blades," 27 Sep. 2017 Io leaves Jupiter's shadow after 1.7 Earth days, which is 2 hours of Io's day, and the sulfur dioxide sublimates—goes straight from solid to gas—and pumps up the atmosphere once again when the moon re-enters sunlight. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, "Astronomers Watch as Io’s Atmosphere Collapses," 4 Aug. 2016 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of sublimate was in 1559

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Statistics for sublimate

Last Updated

24 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sublimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sublimate. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for sublimate

sublimate

verb
How to pronounce sublimate (audio)

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)

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

Nglish: Translation of sublimate for Spanish Speakers

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