Origin of sublime

1350–1400; (noun and adj.) < Latin sublīmis high, equivalent to sub- sub- + an element of uncertain origin, variously identified with līmis, līmus oblique or līmen lintel, threshold; (v.) Middle English sublimen < Old French sublimer < Latin sublimāre to raise, derivative of sublimis
Related formssub·lime·ly, adverbsub·lime·ness, nounsub·lim·er, nounun·sub·limed, adjective
Can be confusedsublimate sublime

Synonyms for sublime

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sublime

Contemporary Examples of sublime

Historical Examples of sublime

  • You had thought it of such bigness—its concerns of a sublime tragicness?

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The answer of the son came with an immutable finality, the sublime faith of love.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The Trinity is one of the most sublime mysteries of our holy religion.

  • And with this selfish, there mingled a generous and sublime sentiment.

    Leila, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Life is working here as elsewhere, for some sublime purpose.

British Dictionary definitions for sublime



of high moral, aesthetic, intellectual, or spiritual value; noble; exalted
inspiring deep veneration, awe, or uplifting emotion because of its beauty, nobility, grandeur, or immensity
unparalleled; supremea sublime compliment
poetic of proud bearing or aspect
archaic raised up

noun the sublime

something that is sublime
the ultimate degree or perfect examplethe sublime of folly


(tr) to make higher or purer
to change or cause to change directly from a solid to a vapour or gas without first meltingto sublime iodine; many mercury salts sublime when heated
to undergo or cause to undergo this process followed by a reverse change directly from a vapour to a solidto sublime iodine onto glass
Derived Formssublimely, adverbsublimity (səˈblɪmɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for sublime

C14: from Latin sublīmis lofty, perhaps from sub- up to + līmen lintel
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 sublime

1580s, "expressing lofty ideas in an elevated manner," from Middle French sublime, from Latin sublimis "uplifted, high, lofty," possibly originally "sloping up to the lintel," from sub "up to" + limen "lintel."

The sublime (n.) "the sublime part of anything" is from 1670s. Sublime Porte, former title of the Ottoman government, is from French la Sublime Porte, literally "the high gate," a loan-translation of Arabic Bab 'Ali, title of the Ottoman court at Constantinople (cf. mikado).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper