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 sublime beauty of it all, Mann tells us, is ‘too much, too blest for sinful mortals’.’
    • ‘The sublime (as distinct from the merely pleasurable) is not primarily a matter of reflection and comparison.’
    • ‘This valley of hellish heat and human misery is also a place of stark, sublime beauty.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Relying on his emotions as a stimulus, Lepe's work is both sublime and intuitive.’
    • ‘His final album is a masterpiece of raw emotions, sublime melodies, and achingly beautiful lyrics.’
    • ‘The sublime jostled with the ridiculous for attention as Edmonton's Thespians donned their finest plumage to dazzle, bewilder and delight.’
    • ‘I have heard and reviewed many great performances of this sublime work but this must take the cake for emotional intensity.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous and truly perplexing I thought I'd share them with you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When Beethoven is out of fashion, that is because people are afraid of drama and of sublime emotions.’
    • ‘The park also presents a curious mix of the sublime and ridiculous, and sometimes, quite bizarre, so you really do need a receptive mind.’
    • ‘He dropped one scoring pass and shortly after the full-back went from the sublime to the ridiculous in a matter of minutes.’
    • ‘This and other personality tests - varying from the sublime to the ridiculous - are also available via the link above.’
    • ‘Themes varied from the sublime to the ridiculous but citizens supported it in force.’
    • ‘It touches everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.’
    • ‘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.’
    exalted, elevated, noble, lofty, awe-inspiring, awesome, majestic, magnificent, imposing, glorious, supreme
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    1. 1.1 Producing an overwhelming sense of awe or other high emotion through being vast or grand.
      ‘a sense of the sublime’
      • ‘He said it inspired a sense of the sublime - the massive, overpowering effect of awe demanded by something bigger and stronger than we are.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are pictorially beautiful, but I think they lacked the sense of the sublime grandeur that they were supposed to evoke.’
      • ‘Utzon is, of all the great modern architects, the least afraid to admit a sense of the sublime into his architecture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These higher, most truly profound realms of sublime human emotional experience are closed to the monkey.’
      • ‘It is, however, perceived as pure and religious, mythical and, in a banal sense, sublime.’
      • ‘And hearing it played on the radio by the finest exponents remains a sublime experience for thousands.’
      • ‘Golden light flooding up the valley creates the sense of the sublime so often invoked by Bierstadt.’
      • ‘When we relate this reverence to our experience of the sublime, we have a sense, however fleeting, of the transcendental.’
      • ‘The resulting images are appropriately sublime, in the strict sense of the term: they inspire feelings of awe mixed with terror.’
      • ‘Echoing Cole's sense of the sublime, geologists saw the landscape as a dynamic expression of inhuman forces operating over vast stretches of time.’
      • ‘The distanced position of the spectator obviates the emotional experience of the sublime.’
      • ‘So, the principle of the sublime depends upon, like Jeanne d' Arc, the sense of a lack of fear of immortality.’
  • 2(of a person's attitude or behaviour) extreme or unparalleled.

    ‘he had the sublime confidence of youth’
    • ‘Yet this last, the cultivation of sublime indifference, may not be the easiest but the toughest way of all into the snob-free zone.’
    • ‘There is a sublime sense of entitlement around these three young women.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And a figure like Joseph Chamberlain had sublime confidence, as had Disraeli before him, that the people could be ‘managed’.’
    • ‘Smith tackles these deeper traits with sublime confidence, bolstered by the similarities between his personality and Ali's.’
    • ‘Fittingly, then, panic for theoreticians is not strictly a sublime emotion.’
    • ‘Her demeanor was sublime to behold in the torchlight that glowed upon her.’
    • ‘Why combine sublime knowledge with utter inexperience?’
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There are conditions under which some materials can either be caused to sublime instead of melting, or liquefy instead of subliming.’
    • ‘A layer of volcanic ash and dust seems to have protected the ice from subliming away, the researcher said.’
    • ‘Sometimes pieces of the mats become encased in ice that migrates upward as the top of the ice sublimes.’
    • ‘Chloranil (Fluka) was recrystallized from acetone and sublimed under vacuum.’
    1. 1.1with 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’.