adjective vis·cer·al \ ˈvi-sə-rəl , ˈvis-rəl \
Updated on: 30 Jan 2018

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


play \ˈvi-sə-rə-lē, ˈvis-rə-\ adverb

visceral was our Word of the Day on 05/04/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of visceral in a Sentence

  1. 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 DefordSports Illustrated6 Nov. 2006
  2. When you measure your waist circumference, you're indirectly measuring your visceral fat. —David SchardtNutrition ActionJuly/August 2006
  3. 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 DunlopGourmetAugust 2005
  4. 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 HesserNew York Times17 July 2002
  5. Her visceral reaction was to curse at the other driver.

Recent Examples of visceral from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of visceral


VISCERAL Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of visceral for English Language Learners

  • : coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

  • medical : of or relating to the viscera

Medical Dictionary


adjective vis·cer·al \ ˈvis-ə-rəl \

medical Definition of visceral

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


play \-rə-lē\ adverb

Learn More about visceral

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


formed or used for a special purpose

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-dog-in-snow-jumping-to-grab-a-heart-shaped-balloon-the-snow-and-heart-balloon-indicate-that-the-month-being-represented-is-april-and-the-dog-is-just-kinda-cute
  • Which is a synonym of sanguine?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

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!