sublime

verb
sub·​lime | \ sə-ˈblīm How to pronounce sublime (audio) \
sublimed; subliming

Definition of sublime

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state and condense back to solid form
2 [French sublimer, from Latin sublimare]
a(1) : to elevate or exalt especially in dignity or honor
(2) : to render finer (as in purity or excellence)
b : to convert (something inferior) into something of higher worth

intransitive verb

: to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state

sublime

adjective
sub·​lime | \ sə-ˈblīm How to pronounce sublime (audio) \
sublimer; sublimest

Definition of sublime (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : lofty, grand, or exalted in thought, expression, or manner
b : of outstanding spiritual, intellectual, or moral worth
c : tending to inspire awe usually because of elevated quality (as of beauty, nobility, or grandeur) or transcendent excellence
2a archaic : high in place
b obsolete : lofty of mien : haughty
c capitalized : supreme used in a style of address
d : complete, utter sublime ignorance

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from sublime

Verb

sublimable \ sə-​ˈblī-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce sublimable (audio) \ adjective
sublimer noun

Adjective

sublimely adverb
sublimeness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sublime

Adjective

splendid, resplendent, gorgeous, glorious, sublime, superb mean extraordinarily or transcendently impressive. splendid implies outshining the usual or customary. the wedding was a splendid occasion resplendent suggests a glowing or blazing splendor. resplendent in her jewelry gorgeous implies a rich splendor especially in display of color. a gorgeous red dress glorious suggests radiance that heightens beauty or distinction. a glorious sunset sublime implies an exaltation or elevation almost beyond human comprehension. a vision of sublime beauty superb suggests an excellence reaching the highest conceivable degree. her singing was superb

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.”

Examples of sublime in a Sentence

Verb … models indicate that frost in most of the southern hemisphere is currently subliming, thinning the surface deposits. — William B. McKinnon et al., Encyclopedia Of The Solar System, 1999 The cursory remarks of the large-minded stranger, of whom he knew absolutely nothing beyond a commonplace name, were sublimed by his death, and influenced Clare more than all the reasoned ethics of the philosophers. — Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 1891 Adjective New Orleans is not just a list of attractions or restaurants or ceremonies, no matter how sublime and subtle. New Orleans is the interaction among all those things, and countless more. — Tom Piazza, Why New Orleans Matters, 2005 Judging by the satisfied look that settles on both men's faces, the meal was sublime. — Kathleen Brennan, Saveur, November 2004 Even when he is paying homage to her sublime beauty, he cannot resist inserting himself as the man responsible for unleashing that beauty's potency. — Zoë Heller, New Republic, 21 May 2001 He composed some of the most sublime symphonies in existence. the sublime beauty of the canyon
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Imprinted in the light of these wisps of subliming vapor are the fingerprints of a comet’s chemical composition. Quanta Magazine, "The Age of Interstellar Visitors," 29 Jan. 2020 Next, the ice will sublime out of them—that’s when water goes straight from ice to gas without turning to liquid first, remember? Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "How to Freeze-Dry Food," 8 Nov. 2018 While the TEB seemed like an awesome idea on paper, most of its advantages sublimed under scrutiny. Sebastian Anthony, Ars Technica, "China’s crazy car-straddling elevated bus is just a giant scam, police say," 5 July 2017 This dish is sublimely simple to make and sublime to eat. Susan Russo, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Fresh ways to mind your peas," 2 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The sublime coordination of a flock of birds or a school of fish—built iteratively from the twitches and bumps of single individuals—turns instinctive behaviors into something vast and graceful. Adam Rogers, Wired, "What the Science of Animal Networks Reveals About Protests," 31 July 2020 His 70th studio album is a sublime and moving set that continues the 87-year-old legend's first-rate work in recent years. Philadelphia Inquirer, Star Tribune, "New music reviews: Juice WRLD drops his best album; Willie Nelson is still sublime and moving," 31 July 2020 Biting into a soft pretzel is a sublime experience that usually happens at a fair, on a boardwalk or while wandering the streets of New York City. Naveen Kumar, CNN Underscored, "How to make your favorite boardwalk snacks at home," 9 July 2020 Biting into a soft pretzel is a sublime experience that usually happens at a fair, on a boardwalk or while wandering the streets of New York City. Naveen Kumar, CNN Underscored, "How to make your favorite boardwalk snacks at home," 9 July 2020 Biting into a soft pretzel is a sublime experience that usually happens at a fair, on a boardwalk or while wandering the streets of New York City. Naveen Kumar, CNN Underscored, "How to make your favorite boardwalk snacks at home," 9 July 2020 With its sublime weather, postcard-perfect beaches, and world-class dining and nightlife, Miami is perennially hot, no matter the season. Siobhan Reid, Travel + Leisure, "The Top 15 Resort Hotels in Greater Miami Beach," 8 July 2020 Their chassis were sublime, responding to driver input with almost telepathic fluidity and control. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "The Greatest Cars of All Time: The 2010s," 5 July 2020 Look forward to sublime sunsets, dinners in the treetops, hikes through the Indonesian jungle, and island hopping via transparent kayaks. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 14 Best Private Island Resorts," 2 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sublime.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sublime

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

circa 1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sublime

Verb

Middle English, from Middle French sublimer, from Medieval Latin sublimare to refine, sublime, from Latin, to elevate, from sublimis

Adjective

Latin sublimis, literally, high, elevated

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sublime

Time Traveler for sublime

Time Traveler

The first known use of sublime was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sublime

Cite this Entry

“Sublime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sublime. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sublime

sublime

adjective
How to pronounce sublime (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sublime

: very beautiful or good : causing strong feelings of admiration or wonder
: complete or extreme

sublime

adjective
sub·​lime | \ sə-ˈblīm How to pronounce sublime (audio) \

Kids Definition of sublime

1 : grand or noble in thought, expression, or manner sublime truths
2 : beautiful or impressive enough to arouse a feeling of admiration and wonder sublime scenery

sublime

verb
sub·​lime | \ sə-ˈblīm How to pronounce sublime (audio) \
sublimed; subliming

Medical Definition of sublime

transitive verb

: to cause to pass from the solid to the vapor state by heating and to condense back to solid form

intransitive verb

: to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sublime

What made you want to look up sublime? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!