Definition of sublimate
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
: to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state : sublime
sublimationplay \ˌsə-blə-ˈmā-shən\ noun
Examples of sublimate in a sentence
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.
Did You Know?
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.
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.”
Origin and Etymology of sublimate
Middle English, from Medieval Latin sublimatus, past participle of sublimare
First Known Use: 1559
First Known Use of sublimate
SUBLIMATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of sublimate for English Language Learners
psychology : to express a desire or feeling by changing it into a form that is socially acceptable
Seen and Heard
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