[suhb-kon-shuh s]


existing or operating in the mind beneath or beyond consciousness: the subconscious self.Compare preconscious, unconscious.
imperfectly or not wholly conscious: subconscious motivations.


the totality of mental processes of which the individual is not aware; unreportable mental activities.

Origin of subconscious

First recorded in 1825–35; sub- + conscious
Related formssub·con·scious·ly, adverbsub·con·scious·ness, nounnon·sub·con·scious, adjectivenon·sub·con·scious·ly, adverbnon·sub·con·scious·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subconscious

Contemporary Examples of subconscious

Historical Examples of subconscious

  • For most of us the fear of death is a subconscious rather than an active fear.

  • This may be called the intuitive or subconscious judgment of woman.

  • Helen in those days was over-interested in the subconscious self.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • This routine had been drilled into them, branded into their subconscious.

    The Hour of Battle

    Robert Sheckley

  • And now she knew in a subconscious sort of way why he had earlier withdrawn.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for subconscious



acting or existing without one's awarenesssubconscious motive


psychoanal that part of the mind which is on the fringe of consciousness and contains material of which it is possible to become aware by redirecting attentionCompare preconscious (def. 2), unconscious (def. 5)
Derived Formssubconsciously, adverbsubconsciousness, noun
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 subconscious

1823, "not wholly conscious" (implied in subconsciously), from sub- + conscious. First attested in De Quincey. The noun, in the psychological sense, is attested from 1886; earlier subconsciousness (1874).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

subconscious in Medicine




Not wholly conscious; partially or imperfectly conscious.


The part of the mind below the level of conscious perception.
Related formssub•conscious•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.