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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 visuals in Far From Home are a surreal pleasure and at times, purposely, sublime nightmares. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Spider-Man: Far From Home starts slow. Then it swings for the stars.," 27 June 2019 There are sublime photographs of waves, taken by Francis Mortimer in the early 1900s. 1843, "The masochistic appeal of the British seaside," 25 June 2019 His sublime performance enthralled guests, as the human mannequins were slowly undressed, to begin the show. Washington Post, "Secret gardens and co-ed styles hit Paris men’s collections," 22 June 2019 In February, the sublime jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and supple pianist Aaron Diehl earned a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Summer arts 2019 | Music: Cécile McLorin Salvant, Bryan Ferry, blink-182 and more," 15 June 2019 Working with her longtime cinematographer Agnès Godard, Denis renders Sophie’s tangled solitude and loose-ends bewilderment in incisively composed images of randomly sublime street action, including scenes framed by the apartment’s windows. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream This Weekend: A Claire Denis Car Commercial, Rescued from Obscurity," 14 June 2019 These winding roads will lead you through sublime vistas and past abundant wildlife, including elk, bison, grizzlies, black bear, pronghorn antelope, moose, and bighorn sheep. Niloufer Venkatraman, National Geographic, "6 can’t-miss stops in Yellowstone National Park," 13 June 2019 Take a player like Rose Lavelle, whose sublime skill in midfield Ellis has been trying to coax out on a more consistent basis. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "Raining Goals on Thailand Wasn’t an Accident. It Was the U.S. Game Plan.," 12 June 2019 As an actor, this is among his most sublime triumphs. Mark Dawidziak, cleveland.com, "Branagh sublime as Shakespeare in ‘All is True’," 7 June 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for sublime

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Time Traveler for sublime

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

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More Definitions for sublime

sublime

adjective

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

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Comments on sublime

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