[ suhb-luh-mey-shuhn ]
See synonyms for sublimation on
  1. 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.

  2. Chemistry. the act, fact, or process of subliming.

  1. a purification or refinement; ennoblement.

Origin of sublimation

First recorded in 1350–1400; from Middle French, from Late Latin sublimation-, stem of sublimatio “elevation,” equivalent to Latin sublimāt(us), past participle of sublimāre “to elevate” + -iō -ion; see sublimate

Other words from sublimation

  • sub·li·ma·tion·al, adjective
  • non·sub·li·ma·tion, noun
  • re·sub·li·ma·tion, noun

Words Nearby sublimation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use sublimation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sublimation


/ (ˌsʌblɪˈmeɪʃən) /

  1. (in Freudian psychology) the diversion of psychic energy derived from sexual impulses into nonsexual activity, esp of a creative nature

  2. the process or an instance of sublimating

  1. something sublimated

  2. 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

Scientific definitions for sublimation


[ sŭb′lə-māshən ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for sublimation (1 of 2)


[ (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.


[ (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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.