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subliminal

[suhb-lim-uh-nl]
adjective Psychology.
  1. existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness; being or employing stimuli insufficiently intense to produce a discrete sensation but often being or designed to be intense enough to influence the mental processes or the behavior of the individual: a subliminal stimulus; subliminal advertising.
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Origin of subliminal

1885–90; sub- + Latin līmin- (stem of līmen) threshold + -al1
Related formssub·lim·i·nal·ly, adverbnon·sub·lim·i·nal, adjectivenon·sub·lim·i·nal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for subliminally

subliminal

adjective
  1. resulting from processes of which the individual is not aware
  2. (of stimuli) less than the minimum intensity or duration required to elicit a response
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Derived Formssubliminally, adverb

Word Origin

C19: from Latin sub- below + līmen threshold
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 subliminally

subliminal

adj.

1886, "below the threshold" (of consciousness), formed from sub "below" (see sub-) + Latin limen (genitive liminis) "threshold" (see limit (n.)).

Apparently a loan-translation of German unter der Schwelle (des Bewusstseins) "beneath the threshold (of consciousness)," from Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841), author of a textbook on psychology published in 1824. The scare over subliminal advertising came in 1957.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

subliminally in Medicine

subliminal

(sŭb-lĭmə-nəl)
adj.
  1. Below the threshold of conscious perception. Used of stimuli.
  2. Inadequate to produce conscious awareness but able to evoke a response.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.