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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web This doctor was about to cut away my child’s privates, and my reaction was visceral. M. Boone Mattia, Washington Post, "A mother reflects on her long journey of reconsidering her child’s gender," 10 Sep. 2020 Our visceral attachment to the era goes way beyond a slip dress and combat boots. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Introducing In Vogue: The 1990s, a Podcast About the Decade That Changed Us," 10 Sep. 2020 Trump shared with Woodward visceral reactions to several prominent Democrats of color. Robert Costa And Philip Rucker Washington Post, Star Tribune, "Trump says he knew coronavirus was 'deadly' while publicly downplaying it, new book says," 9 Sep. 2020 Trump shared with Woodward visceral reactions to several prominent Democrats of color. Author: Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ while intentionally misleading Americans, new book reports," 9 Sep. 2020 One of the big challenges was how to express war and epic battle, but still be real and raw and visceral. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Niki Caro and the cast of Mulan break down making Disney's first full-blown martial arts movie," 4 Sep. 2020 The prankish device is a rumination on our desire for deeper, more visceral communication with our distant friends. Michael Calore, Wired, "The Pheromonophone Lets You Reach Out and Smell Someone," 31 Aug. 2020 Outside, Redding placed his hand on one of the timbers, caressing the hew marks; a visceral connection to the past. Christina Tkacik,, "‘A little underdog’: A rediscovered log cabin with a mysterious past in Hagerstown showcases a forgotten Black community," 30 Aug. 2020 His music provides a wonderfully vital and visceral outlet for those lessons to be shared. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Gregory Porter rises up on stirring new album: ‘We need things to elevate us’," 30 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of visceral

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for visceral

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The first known use of visceral was in 1575

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Visceral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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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

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