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

An encounter with the Other through the visceral experience of a meal doesn’t guarantee the development of genuine empathy. Thomas Harlander, Los Angeles Magazine, "Eddie Huang’s Immigrant-Focused Food Show Can’t Come Soon Enough," 20 June 2018 Zorn’s saxophone and Laswell’s bass are elemental forces — like lightning and thunder — visceral, tangible and looking to touch a nerve. Joshua Zucker,, "John Zorn and Bill Laswell make rare duo appearance at the Chapel," 11 July 2018 The moment is brutal and long and visceral, as The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t just go for tight shots of the scene, which would minimize viewing the actual assault., "Handmaid’s Tale," 20 June 2018 In order to do that, in order to create a world that feels visceral, real, and authentic, detail is crucial. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "On The Alienist, Dakota Fanning Reveals What You Never See in a Period Show," 30 May 2018 New York Everything Chaim Soutine painted is visceral, meaty. Lance Esplund, WSJ, "‘Chaim Soutine: Flesh’ Review: Bloody, Brilliant Still Lifes," 2 May 2018 McCullers, so renowned for his visceral and unapologetic emotion while pitching, failed to harness it properly, showing up Yuli Gurriel after the first baseman committed a second-inning error. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Lance McCullers lets emotions spiral into pitching struggles," 27 May 2018 This vivid vein of journalism, with its immersive reporting and visceral writing, removed authorial distance and plunged readers into events and subcultures. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88," 15 May 2018 With the help of songs both visceral and catchy, Tamko rose up through the DIY scene in New York. Efrain Dorado, RedEye Chicago, "5 must-see Chicago concerts this week: Riot Fest, Sheer Mag, Vagabon," 13 Sep. 2017

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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Statistics for visceral

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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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



English Language Learners Definition of visceral

: coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

medical : of or relating to the viscera


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

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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