Definition of sublimate in English:



  • 1[with object] (especially in psychoanalytic theory) divert or modify (an instinctual impulse) into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity.

    ‘people who will sublimate sexuality into activities which help to build up and preserve civilization’
    ‘he sublimates his hurt and anger into humor’
    • ‘The lengths we will go to in order to sublimate ourselves and placate the people we care about is a simultaneously charming and pathetic aspect of human nature.’
    • ‘In whatever field one has chosen to work, or indeed is forced to work, that activity can be sublimated to the higher position of yoga.’
    • ‘At its heart is a consideration of the artistic process, a debate over the legitimacy of sublimating social anguish into aesthetic form.’
    • ‘Too often, however, student needs or preferences are sublimated to the overwhelming task of presenting large bodies of information to large numbers of students in small periods of time.’
    • ‘Athletes are expected to fight for responsibility and attention but to quickly sublimate those desires when it benefits the team.’
    • ‘A psychologist might interpret my conversion as sublimating my guilty feelings, but I prefer to think about it as fulfilling my Jewish destiny.’
    • ‘So the goofy Greeks decorated their merrymaking in pretty bows and successfully sublimated their impulses with constrictive ceremonial routines.’
    • ‘Libido must be sublimated into productive work activities, and this necessitates the removal of temptation.’
    • ‘It also suggests a canny ability to sublimate some of the social energy and anxiety toward the secondary ‘desire’: to recreate a difficult problem as easy solvable.’
    • ‘Artists, in this view, are people who may avoid neurosis and perversion by sublimating their impulses in their work.’
    • ‘They are artists in the truest sense of the word, sublimating their egos and committing themselves fully to the needs of the project.’
    • ‘Making her own way in a hostile world, she establishes her sons and ultimately sublimates the ego.’
    • ‘Marley's performance is impressive for all its sublimated emotion.’
    • ‘The poet in Lawrence was sublimated by the journalist in him in order to accomplish this project and get paid.’
    • ‘Attachment to the wealth in any form is to be sublimated by realization that all the wealth is illusory and the real Lord is our indwelling Self in everything.’
    • ‘Remembering them daily, learning from them how to sublimate our petty ego to reach the higher self, we transcend sin.’
    • ‘As Karl Toepfer makes clear, eroticism was understood by many advocates and participants to be a fundamental component of body culture, whether sublimated or expressly promoted.’
    • ‘Leopold Mozart was a talented composer, but no more than that, so sublimated his own remaining ambitions to devote himself to the coaching and ‘particular proof’ of his surviving children.’
    • ‘The learning happened because the youngest stars were more than willing to sublimate their own egos for the benefit of the team.’
    • ‘Can she sublimate her ego for the good of the team?’
    channel, control, divert, transfer, redirect, convert, refine, purify, transmute
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  • 2Chemistry

    another term for sublime
    • ‘78.5°C Temperature at which dry ice (carbon dioxide) sublimates from a solid to a gas’
    • ‘Some of the most dominating physical features I've ever encountered, a glacier is a vast mass of ice formed from the accumulation of snow that compacts faster than it melts and sublimates.’
    • ‘There is no danger at all in consuming a drink that was cooled down using dry ice - most of the carbon dioxide will just sublimate into the air.’
    • ‘Were that to occur, it would expose any underlying water-ice cap, which could then heat up and sublimate water into the atmosphere.’


  • A solid deposit of a substance that has sublimed.

    • ‘During the waning stages of eruption, fumarolic activity oxidized cinders along the rim and deposited aggregates of sublimates, hydrothermal precipitates, and reaction products near the central vent of the volcano.’


Late Middle English (in the sense raise to a higher status): from Latin sublimat- raised up from the verb sublimare.