Definition of sublime in English:



  • 1Of very great excellence or beauty.

    ‘Mozart's sublime piano concertos’
    ‘experiences that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous’
    • ‘The park also presents a curious mix of the sublime and ridiculous, and sometimes, quite bizarre, so you really do need a receptive mind.’
    • ‘This and other personality tests - varying from the sublime to the ridiculous - are also available via the link above.’
    • ‘The country boasts a sublime natural beauty, with the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and a patchwork coastal strip of brilliant green rice paddies.’
    • ‘Where can one who rejects the alternative of the sublime horror or the ridiculous degradation seek the image of a man with a reason to fight for a this-worldly ideal?’
    • ‘His final album is a masterpiece of raw emotions, sublime melodies, and achingly beautiful lyrics.’
    • ‘It touches everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.’
    • ‘Themes varied from the sublime to the ridiculous but citizens supported it in force.’
    • ‘In the ensuing furore, the arguments put forward on both sides have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.’
    • ‘This is an unashamedly bombastic work but one cannot help being moved by the grandeur and sublime beauty of the piece.’
    • ‘The sublime (as distinct from the merely pleasurable) is not primarily a matter of reflection and comparison.’
    • ‘Relying on his emotions as a stimulus, Lepe's work is both sublime and intuitive.’
    • ‘In each religion we discover the interweaving of the sublime and the ridiculous, the liberatory and the oppressive, the radical and the conventional.’
    • ‘They are creations of sublime visual beauty and sensuality; dreamlike chiaroscuro and stifling decorative excess form the backdrop for melodrama pervaded by a diffuse sexuality.’
    • ‘The sublime jostled with the ridiculous for attention as Edmonton's Thespians donned their finest plumage to dazzle, bewilder and delight.’
    • ‘This valley of hellish heat and human misery is also a place of stark, sublime beauty.’
    • ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous and truly perplexing I thought I'd share them with you.’
    • ‘The sublime beauty of it all, Mann tells us, is ‘too much, too blest for sinful mortals’.’
    • ‘I have heard and reviewed many great performances of this sublime work but this must take the cake for emotional intensity.’
    • ‘He dropped one scoring pass and shortly after the full-back went from the sublime to the ridiculous in a matter of minutes.’
    • ‘When Beethoven is out of fashion, that is because people are afraid of drama and of sublime emotions.’
    exalted, elevated, noble, lofty, awe-inspiring, awesome, majestic, magnificent, imposing, glorious, supreme
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    1. 1.1Producing an overwhelming sense of awe or other high emotion through being vast or grand.
      ‘a sense of the sublime’
      • ‘Part of their power is their ability to evoke the sublime for their visitors by affirming a sense of patriotism and awe in the majesty of a building so grand and permanent in the landscape.’
      • ‘Echoing Cole's sense of the sublime, geologists saw the landscape as a dynamic expression of inhuman forces operating over vast stretches of time.’
      • ‘Westminster station, one of the most dramatic on the Jubilee Line, is sublime in the proper sense of the word: awesome in both experience and execution.’
      • ‘And hearing it played on the radio by the finest exponents remains a sublime experience for thousands.’
      • ‘They are pictorially beautiful, but I think they lacked the sense of the sublime grandeur that they were supposed to evoke.’
      • ‘He said it inspired a sense of the sublime - the massive, overpowering effect of awe demanded by something bigger and stronger than we are.’
      • ‘The distanced position of the spectator obviates the emotional experience of the sublime.’
      • ‘This simple plot is developed masterfully through a narrative technique which employs a series of vignettes giving an appropriately hazy yet sublime sense of situation and setting.’
      • ‘These higher, most truly profound realms of sublime human emotional experience are closed to the monkey.’
      • ‘The resulting images are appropriately sublime, in the strict sense of the term: they inspire feelings of awe mixed with terror.’
      • ‘When we relate this reverence to our experience of the sublime, we have a sense, however fleeting, of the transcendental.’
      • ‘It is, however, perceived as pure and religious, mythical and, in a banal sense, sublime.’
      • ‘Golden light flooding up the valley creates the sense of the sublime so often invoked by Bierstadt.’
      • ‘They may not all image it directly, but a sense of space and the sublime seems to find its way into the visual art on some level.’
      • ‘Utzon is, of all the great modern architects, the least afraid to admit a sense of the sublime into his architecture.’
      • ‘While Turner was a complex and eclectic artist, much of his work is suffused with a Romantic sense of nature's sublime power and wonder.’
      • ‘The sublime transformed itself into feminine agency, the ability to occupy a space in an active way so as not to be utterly overwhelmed by the sublime effect of nature.’
      • ‘So, the principle of the sublime depends upon, like Jeanne d' Arc, the sense of a lack of fear of immortality.’
      • ‘And given the opportunity for sublime spectacle, shipwreck was a main-stay of visual culture.’
      • ‘Only in the metropolis can human culture and knowledge reach its bizarre, sublime peaks; only there can 10,000 strangers come together in a city square to hear music.’
  • 2(of a person's attitude or behaviour) extreme or unparalleled.

    ‘he had the sublime confidence of youth’
    • ‘Smith tackles these deeper traits with sublime confidence, bolstered by the similarities between his personality and Ali's.’
    • ‘There is a sublime sense of entitlement around these three young women.’
    • ‘Why combine sublime knowledge with utter inexperience?’
    • ‘Her demeanor was sublime to behold in the torchlight that glowed upon her.’
    • ‘We used to introduce heroic figures with sublime intentions to Chinese youth as role models, but the extra-grandeur of the figures was too much for them to believe.’
    • ‘With his hauteur and chequered disciplinary record, as well as his sublime talent, he dominated the emerging celebrity culture of English football.’
    • ‘The nutmeg as Mills tried to shield the ball at the corner flag was a sublime example of justified arrogance.’
    • ‘Fittingly, then, panic for theoreticians is not strictly a sublime emotion.’
    • ‘Yet this last, the cultivation of sublime indifference, may not be the easiest but the toughest way of all into the snob-free zone.’
    • ‘And a figure like Joseph Chamberlain had sublime confidence, as had Disraeli before him, that the people could be ‘managed’.’
    supreme, total, complete, utter, consummate, extreme
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  • 1Chemistry
    [no object] (of a solid substance) change directly into vapour when heated, typically forming a solid deposit again on cooling.

    ‘the ice sublimed away, leaving the books dry and undamaged’
    • ‘Sometimes pieces of the mats become encased in ice that migrates upward as the top of the ice sublimes.’
    • ‘A layer of volcanic ash and dust seems to have protected the ice from subliming away, the researcher said.’
    • ‘Chloranil (Fluka) was recrystallized from acetone and sublimed under vacuum.’
    • ‘There are conditions under which some materials can either be caused to sublime instead of melting, or liquefy instead of subliming.’
    • ‘Even given current surface conditions, the water could flow for hundreds of metres or more, depending on the volume and rate of flow, before completely subliming into the atmosphere.’
    1. 1.1[with object]Cause (a substance) to sublime.
      ‘these crystals could be sublimed under a vacuum’
  • 2archaic [with object] Elevate to a high degree of moral or spiritual purity or excellence.

    ‘let your thoughts be sublimed by the spirit of God’


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘dignified, aloof’): from Latin sublimis, from sub- up to + a second element perhaps related to limen threshold, limus oblique.