1

sublime

verb sub·lime \ sə-ˈblīm \
Updated on: 8 Nov 2017

Definition of sublime

sublimed; subliming
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

sublimable

play \-ˈblī-mə-bəl\ adjective

sublimer

noun

Examples of sublime in a Sentence

  1. … 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 System1999
  2. 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 HardyTess of the D'Urbervilles1891

Recent Examples of sublime from the Web

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.

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 sublime

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


2

sublime

adjective sub·lime \ sə-ˈblīm \

Definition of sublime

sublimer; sublimest
1 a :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
2 a archaic :high in place
b obsolete :lofty of mien :haughty
c capitalized :supreme used in a style of address
d :complete, utter
  • sublime ignorance

sublimely

adverb

sublimeness

noun

Examples of sublime in a Sentence

  1. 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 PiazzaWhy New Orleans Matters2005
  2. Judging by the satisfied look that settles on both men's faces, the meal was sublime. —Kathleen BrennanSaveurNovember 2004
  3. 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 HellerNew Republic21 May 2001
  4. He composed some of the most sublime symphonies in existence.

  5. the sublime beauty of the canyon

Recent Examples of sublime from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sublime

Latin sublimis, literally, high, elevated

Synonym Discussion of sublime

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 Defined for English Language Learners

sublime

adjective

Definition of sublime for English Language Learners

  • : very beautiful or good : causing strong feelings of admiration or wonder

  • : complete or extreme


SUBLIME Defined for Kids

sublime

adjective sub·lime \ sə-ˈblīm \

Definition of sublime for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

sublime

verb sub·lime \ sə-ˈblīm \

medical Definition of sublime

sublimed; subliming
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


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a blind with adjustable horizontal slats

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!