vis·​cer·​al | \ ˈvi-sə-rəl How to pronounce visceral (audio) , ˈvis-rəl \

Definition of visceral

1 : felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body : deep a visceral conviction
2 : not intellectual : instinctive, unreasoning visceral drives
3 : dealing with crude or elemental emotions : earthy a visceral novel
4 : of, relating to, or located on or among the viscera : splanchnic visceral organs

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from visceral

viscerally \ ˈvi-​sə-​rə-​lē How to pronounce viscerally (audio) , ˈvis-​rə-​ \ adverb

The Tie Between Visceral and Biology

The "viscera" are the internal organs of the body-especially those located in the large cavity of the trunk (e.g., the heart, liver, and intestines). The word viscera comes from Latin, in which it has essentially the same meaning. Something "visceral" has to do with the viscera. In a more figurative sense, something "visceral" is felt "deep down." Even in the early years of its use, "visceral" often referred to things emotional rather than physiological. For example, in 1640, an English bishop named Edward Reynolds wrote, "Love is of all other the inmost and most visceral affection." This figurative use is the most common use of "visceral," but the word continues to be used in medical contexts as well.

Examples of visceral in a Sentence

In 1972 he began an address at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, "Let me start off by saying this is not quite an honor, my being here. I haven't had too much regard for the Chamber of Commerce in my years in Boston. When the Celtics won 11 championships in 13 years, it was ignored in their own town." Arnold Jacob Auerbach, though paradoxical and highly idiosyncratic, was foremost a direct and visceral man. — Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 6 Nov. 2006 When you measure your waist circumference, you're indirectly measuring your visceral fat. — David Schardt, Nutrition Action, July/August 2006 But there are strong taboos I haven't anticipated. The most striking is the visceral dislike of rawness. In China, the consumption of raw foods was historically viewed as a barbarian habit, and most everything is still eaten cooked. — Fuchsia Dunlop, Gourmet, August 2005 One of the wonders of cooking is that the tiniest adjustment to what you are making, the addition of a single ingredient or the execution of a technique, can entirely change a dish and the visceral response you get from eating it. — Amanda Hesser, New York Times, 17 July 2002 Her visceral reaction was to curse at the other driver.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Yet none have truly matched the visceral experience many of us crave so profoundly: live performance, in a theater. Jocelyn Noveck,, "'American Utopia’ review: Spike Lee, David Byrne take us on a hypnotic journey," 14 Oct. 2020 How to create a structure that can hold together the many layers of her visceral experience of manhood and her perspective on it, leaving the contradictions intact? Thomas Gebremedhin, The Atlantic, "Nicole Krauss on the Purity of Independence," 2 Oct. 2020 Still, some of the details, particularly paying only $750 in federal income taxes two years in a row and deducting hairstyling expenses, among other things, could resonate in a visceral way. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Trump Deflects Questions About Taxes, but First Debate Has a New Issue," 28 Sep. 2020 The band brought fierce musicianship and high energy to the virtual show, which for obvious reasons, couldn't replicate the visceral experience of seeing live music. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "'Music helps us through all things': Metallica rocks virtual concert at drive-in theaters," 30 Aug. 2020 But June 20 was something else: a visceral response to a blunt provocation. Amos Barshad, Wired, "The Prince of Georgia Is Big on Instagram," 27 Aug. 2020 But in the visceral political climate of 2020, there's a growing concern about various chaotic scenarios in the race between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Lisa Mascaro, Star Tribune, "Pelosi out to block Trump if disputed election ends in House," 7 Oct. 2020 There was visceral emotion and power in her tugging on his arms. Washington Post, "Joe Biden’s campaign, summed up in one simple gesture," 6 Oct. 2020 Due, who has written more than 10 novels, says many Black people have a visceral feel for horror stories because Black history is horror. John Blake, CNN, "Black writers and filmmakers are bringing new scares to the horror genre," 4 Oct. 2020

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

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about visceral

Time Traveler for visceral

Time Traveler

The first known use of visceral was in 1575

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about visceral

Statistics for visceral

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Visceral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for visceral


How to pronounce visceral (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of visceral

literary : coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason
medical : of or relating to the viscera


vis·​cer·​al | \ ˈvis-ə-rəl How to pronounce visceral (audio) \

Medical Definition of visceral

: of, relating to, or located on or among the viscera visceral organs — compare parietal sense 1

Other Words from visceral

viscerally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce viscerally (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on visceral

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!