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 Especially the sublime ones that Indian mythology peddles relentlessly. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz India, "We, the permanent villains of Indian mythology, must reclaim our fallen icons," 30 Dec. 2019 The story never finds its twinkle, but space is sublime. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "The third ‘Star Wars’ trilogy comes to a conclusion this week at the movies," 12 Dec. 2019 Mane was sublime, setting up the opening two goals with delicious passes while neatly slotting home an effort of his own with the inside of his left boot. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "Jose Mourinho humbled on return to Old Trafford," 5 Dec. 2019 For Shkur, the meaning of Saturday’s card ran far deeper than a mere showcase for Davis’ sublime skills. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "‘It’s a beautiful thing’: Fans celebrate Gervonta Davis bringing championship boxing back to Baltimore," 28 July 2019 Reports this term have also suggested that Madrid are preparing for a summer overhaul following a very disappointing season by their sublime standards. SI.com, "Robert Lewandowski's New Agent Hints at Potential Real Madrid Switch," 26 Feb. 2018 Foolishness, and the deflating sensation that a culture that once encouraged sublime beauty now only permits dopey jokes, is Mr. Cattelan’s stock in trade. Jason Farago, New York Times, "A (Grudging) Defense of the $120,000 Banana," 8 Dec. 2019 The team invites six citizens of all stripes to bravely stand before an audience, sharing 10-minute tales (ranging from heartbreaking and joyful to silly and sublime) of San Francisco life. Catherine Bigelow, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco parks donors come out to play and raise $700K," 19 Sep. 2019 Her defensive skills are sublime, and are a large reason why England has conceded just one goal in this tournament. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "This English player may be the one who shuts down Megan Rapinoe in World Cup semifinal," 1 July 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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Learn More about sublime

Time Traveler for sublime

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sublime

Cite this Entry

“Sublime.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subliming. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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

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Comments on sublime

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