visceral

adjective
vis·​cer·​al | \ ˈvi-sə-rəl, 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

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Other Words from visceral

viscerally \ ˈvi-​sə-​rə-​lē , 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Troy, of August Wilson's Fences, has also been lauded as a real and visceral portrait of Black fathers. Joelle Monique, Teen Vogue, ""If Beale Street Could Talk" Highlights the Power of Love in a World Designed for Black People to Fail," 9 Jan. 2019 What struck me immediately was how intensely visceral the musical sequences are. Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue, "Lady Gaga Opens Up About A Star Is Born, MeToo, and a Decade in Pop," 10 Sep. 2018 For all the crazy antics — and some revelers who got out of control — a sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral. Elaine Ganley, Fox News, "With flags, song, pride, French celebrate unifying victory," 15 July 2018 At once mysterious and visceral, the movie pulses with class resentment, toxic masculinity, homoeroticism, and suppressed violence. John Powers, Vogue, "These Were 2018’s 12 Best Movies," 12 Dec. 2018 Both movies feature convincingly visceral, graphic depictions of medieval warfare, and so the weapons of the era are on gory display. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "'Outlaw King' vs. 'Braveheart': Which Movie Gets Scotland Right?," 13 Nov. 2018 The political polarization that came to epitomize Bork’s nomination remains just as visceral, if not more so, as Kavanaugh’s nomination is debated. Jane Coaston, Vox, "“Borking,” explained: why a failed Supreme Court nomination in 1987 matters," 26 Sep. 2018 What is clear after Comey's sit-down with George Stephanopoulos is that the former top cop's disdain for Trump is rooted in something more visceral than suspicion of a crime or a low IQ. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Comey’s disdain for Trump has the simplest of explanations: morality," 15 Apr. 2018 Your visceral reaction to Kavanaugh, being closer to him than just a television camera? Fox News, "Kavanaugh denies assault allegations in Fox News interview," 25 Sep. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of visceral

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for visceral

The first known use of visceral was in 1575

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More Definitions for visceral

visceral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of visceral

: coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

medical : of or relating to the viscera

visceral

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 sense 1

Other Words from visceral

viscerally \ -​rə-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on visceral

Spanish Central: Translation of visceral

Nglish: Translation of visceral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of visceral for Arabic Speakers

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