[verb suhb-luh-meyt; noun, adjective suhb-luh-mit, -meyt]
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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. 2019

Related Words for sublimate

repress, uphold, cleanse, rarefy, clean, refine, transfer, suppress, redirect

Examples from the Web for sublimate

Historical Examples of sublimate

British Dictionary definitions for sublimate


  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 sublimate

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sublimate 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.