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 During the 2016 Presidential primary, SPARK Neuro, a company that uses brain waves and other physiological signals to delve into the subliminal mind, decided to assess people’s reactions to the Democratic candidates. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "The Neuroscience of Picking a Presidential Candidate," 3 Feb. 2020 Montana Levi Blanco’s costumes and Justin Ellington’s subliminal music and sound design match and extend the same sensibility. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box,’ Adrienne Kennedy’s Beautiful Nightmare," 30 Jan. 2018 At a time when hate is at a premium, and decorum, civility and kindness are vanishing, Christmas songs touch a subliminal soft spot that allows us to be neighborly to be united in a sense of home. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Yes, it can be cringe-worthy, but here's why I absolutely love Christmas music," 15 Dec. 2019 Months after engaging in reported PDA with Khloé Kardashian's former partner, Tristan Thompson, the model has faced accusations of using her social media platform to send subliminal shade in the direction of Khloé. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Jordyn Woods Wants Fans to Stop Thinking Her Posts Are About Khloé Kardashian," 12 Dec. 2019 Their influence, both overt and subliminal, on Brooklyn is key to understanding the crisis now unfolding in the same neighborhoods that were once roiled by Campbell’s poetry reading. Zachary Evans, National Review, "Anti-Semitism Grows in Brooklyn as Its Roots Remain Misunderstood," 10 Dec. 2019 Monstress was the perfect fantasy for a decade in which the internet’s omnipresence brought subliminal horrors to the surface and endless decentralized war became a fact of life. Christian Holub,, "The best comics of the decade," 21 Nov. 2019 There’s nothing subliminal about the slick campaign to get Texans aboard its petition at Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "Chevy seeks more Suburban cred as national vehicle of Texas," 7 Nov. 2019 During the brief, sometimes rambling conversation, West, 42, talked about his battle with the Devil, mental breakdown and subliminal messages in the media. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Kanye West at Lakewood: 'Now, the greatest artist that God ever created is working for him'," 18 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for subliminal

Time Traveler

The first known use of subliminal was in 1883

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Statistics for subliminal

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subliminal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for subliminal


How to pronounce subliminal (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subliminal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subliminal

Britannica English: Translation of subliminal for Arabic Speakers

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