[verb suhb-luh-meyt; noun, adjective suhb-luh-mit, -meyt]
verb (used with object), sub·li·mat·ed, sub·li·mat·ing.
  1. Psychology. to divert 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.
  2. Chemistry.
    1. to sublime (a solid substance); extract by this process.
    2. to refine or purify (a substance).
  3. to make nobler or purer: To read about great men sublimates ambition.
verb (used without object), sub·li·mat·ed, sub·li·mat·ing.
  1. to become sublimated; undergo sublimation.
  1. Chemistry. the crystals, deposit, or material obtained when a substance is sublimated.
  1. purified or exalted; sublimated.

Origin of sublimate

1425–75; late Middle English: exalted, sublimated < Latin sublīmātus (past participle of sublīmāre to elevate), equivalent to sublīm(is) sublime + -ātus -ate1
Related formssub·li·ma·ble [suhb-luh-muh-buh l] /ˈsʌb lə mə bəl/, adjectivesub·li·ma·ble·ness, nounsub·li·ma·tion, nounde·sub·li·mate, verb (used with object), de·sub·li·mat·ed, de·sub·li·mat··sub·li·mate, verb (used with object), re·sub·li·mat·ed, re·sub·li·mat··per·sub·li·mat·ed, adjectiveun·sub·li·mat·ed, adjective
Can be confusedsublimate sublime Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for desublimate


  1. psychol to direct the energy of (a primitive impulse, esp a sexual one) into activities that are considered to be socially more acceptable
  2. (tr) to make purer; refine
  1. chem the material obtained when a substance is sublimed
  1. exalted or purified
Derived Formssublimable (ˈsʌbləməbəl), adjective

Word Origin for sublimate

C16: from Latin sublīmāre to elevate, from sublīmis lofty; see sublime
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

Word Origin and History for desublimate



1560s, from Latin sublimatus, past participle of sublimare (see sublimation). Related: Sublimated; sublimating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

desublimate in Medicine


  1. To transform directly from the solid to the gaseous state or from the gaseous to the solid state without becoming a liquid.
  2. To modify the natural expression of an instinctual impulse, especially a sexual one, in a socially acceptable manner.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.