sub·​lim·​i·​nal | \ (ˌ)sə-ˈbli-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce subliminal (audio) \

Definition of subliminal

1 : inadequate to produce a sensation or a perception
2 : existing or functioning below the threshold of consciousness the subliminal mind subliminal advertising

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Other Words from subliminal

subliminally adverb

Did You Know?

Since the Latin word limen means "threshold", something subliminal exists just below the threshold of conscious awareness. The classic example of a subliminal message is "Eat popcorn" flashed on a movie screen so quickly that the audience doesn't even notice it consciously. Actually, no such advertising has ever been shown to work. But ordinary ads, both in print and on TV, do contain all kinds of images that shape our response to the product being advertised even when we don't realize it. Try looking carefully at some ads that you like, in order to discover how many ways they may be subliminally affecting you.

Examples of subliminal in a Sentence

The studio denied the existence of subliminal messages in the movie. I am skeptical that subliminal advertising actually works.

Recent Examples on the Web

For example, by 2013, Facebook had learned how to engineer subliminal cues on its pages to shape users’ real-world actions and feelings. Shoshana Zuboff, Time, "The Surveillance Threat Is Not What Orwell Imagined," 6 June 2019 Viewers have interpreted the post as a subliminal message to Woods in defense of Khloé. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Tristan Thompson and Jordyn Woods Cheating Allegations, Explained," 22 Feb. 2019 Something in the newscast caught her attention on a subliminal level, and Miyako turned the volume up slightly and jumped back ten seconds. . . Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Two unlikely cops are paired up to solve murders in a war-torn Tokyo in Ninth Step Station," 8 Dec. 2018 There’s also the fact that a lack of sleep and steady nourishment can heighten our awareness of these strange, subliminal connections. Justin Chang,, "Cannes delivers a triumph with Lee Chang-dong’s slow-‘Burning’ masterwork," 18 May 2018 There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans, let alone machines. New York Times, "Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t.," 10 May 2018 Anything horrible can happen to you anywhere: That is the subliminal message of these calamities for those receptive to it. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Why I Still Travel," 19 July 2016 Honestly, the subliminal and overt messaging about sustainability is getting to me (in a good way). Jessica Cruel, SELF, "You Should Be Recycling Your Beauty Products—10 Things You Need to Know," 7 July 2018 This song isn’t revolutionary to Drake’s musical arsenal but pads the B-side with another vibey cut jam-packed with lines perfect for subliminal Instagram captions. Scott Glaysher, Billboard, "Ranking Each Song From the B-Side of Drake's 'Scorpion' Album: Critic's Take," 30 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subliminal.' 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 subliminal

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subliminal

sub- + Latin limin-, limen threshold

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Statistics for subliminal

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subliminal

The first known use of subliminal was in 1883

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English Language Learners Definition of subliminal

: relating to things that influence your mind in a way that you do not notice


sub·​lim·​i·​nal | \ (ˌ)səb-ˈlim-ən-ᵊl, ˈsəb- How to pronounce subliminal (audio) \

Medical Definition of subliminal

1 : inadequate to produce a sensation or a perception
2 : existing or functioning below the threshold of consciousness the subliminal mind subliminal advertising

Other Words from subliminal

subliminally \ -​ē How to pronounce subliminally (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on subliminal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subliminal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subliminal

Britannica English: Translation of subliminal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on subliminal

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behavior toward others

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