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[suhb-luh-mey-shuh n] /ˌsʌb ləˈmeɪ ʃən/
Psychology. the diversion of the energy of a sexual or other biological impulse from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.
Chemistry. the act, fact, or process of subliming (def 9).
a purification or refinement; ennoblement.
Related forms
sublimational, adjective
nonsublimation, noun
resublimation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for sublimation


(in Freudian psychology) the diversion of psychic energy derived from sexual impulses into nonsexual activity, esp of a creative nature
the process or an instance of sublimating
something sublimated
(chem) the process or instance or subliming
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sublimation

late 14c., in alchemy, "process of purifying by heating into a vapor," from Medieval Latin sublimationem (nominative sublimatio) "refinement," literally "a lifting up, deliverance," from Latin sublimare "to raise, elevate," from sublimis "lofty" (see sublime). Psychological sense is first recorded 1910, probably influenced by subliminal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sublimation in Medicine

sublimation sub·li·ma·tion (sŭb'lə-mā'shən)

  1. The act or process of sublimating.

  2. Something that has been sublimated.

  3. An unconscious defense mechanism in which unacceptable instinctual drives and wishes are modified into more personally and socially acceptable channels.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sublimation in Science
The process of changing from a solid to a gas without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. Carbon dioxide, at a pressure of one atmosphere, sublimates at about -78 degrees Celsius. Ice and snow on the Earth's surface also sublimate at temperatures below the freezing point of water. Compare deposition.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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sublimation in Culture
sublimation [(sub-luh-may-shuhn)]

In Freudian psychology, a defense mechanism by which the individual satisfies a socially prohibited instinctive drive (usually sexual or aggressive) through the substitution of socially acceptable behavior. For example, someone with strong sexual drives who paints nude portraits may be engaging in sublimation.

sublimation [(sub-luh-may-shuhn)]

In chemistry, the direct conversion of a solid into a gas, without passage through a liquid stage. (See phases of matter.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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