sublime

verb
sub·​lime | \ sə-ˈblīm \
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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from sublime

Verb

sublimable \ sə-​ˈblī-​mə-​bəl \ 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for the laws which apply to this absolute appeared to me as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 The combination is sublime and satisfies a pang for comfort food. BostonGlobe.com, "George’s Coney Island turns 100," 26 June 2018 The glow emanating on the horizon from these fortresses—built in depopulated regions of Wyoming and Colorado—is both chilling and sublime. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Ansel Adams in Our Time’ Review: Reconsidering a Mountainous Career," 12 Dec. 2018 The house enlisted the talents of choreographer Sharon Eyal for a sublime and balletic contemporary dance performance that ran throughout the spring-summer show. Thomas Adamson, The Seattle Times, "Dior and Gucci theatrically kick off Paris Fashion Week," 24 Sep. 2018 And Walsh is a sublime beauty who moves with supple grace. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "C'est magnifique! Saenger's 'An American in Paris' dances its way into audience's heart," 31 Jan. 2018 To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Fox News, "Farewell statement from John McCain," 27 Aug. 2018 At its most simple and yet sublime, Balanchine’s choreography also capitalizes on artful movements for the women’s arms, wrists and hands in a symphony of filigree effects. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘ABT Women’s Movement’ Review: Creative Empowerment," 23 Oct. 2018 But beyond the food—which is, as these accolades would suggest, sublime—Quince is known for a unique approach to its tablescapes, maintaining a library of well over 400 plates across some 50 styles. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "Highlights From a Michelin-Starred Restaurant’s Extraordinary Plate Collection," 24 Sep. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sublime

Statistics for sublime

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sublime

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sublime

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

WORD OF THE DAY

tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!