from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To be transformed directly from the solid to the gaseous state or from the gaseous to the solid state without becoming a liquid.
  • intransitive verb Chemistry To cause (a solid or gas) to sublimate.
  • intransitive verb To modify the natural expression of (a primitive, instinctual impulse) in a socially acceptable manner.
  • intransitive verb To divert the energy associated with (an unacceptable impulse or drive) into an acceptable activity.
  • noun Chemistry A product of sublimation.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To bring (a solid substance, such as camphor or sulphur) by heat into the state of vapor, which on cooling returns again to the solid state. See sublimation.
  • To extract by or as by sublimation.
  • Figuratively, to deprive of earthly dross; elevate; refine; purify; idealize.
  • Brought into a state of vapor by heat, and again condensed, as camphor, sulphur, etc.; hence, elevated; purified.
  • noun Anything produced by sublimation or refining.
  • noun In mineralogy, the deposit formed, as in a glass tube or on a surface of charcoal, when a mineral containing a volatile ingredient is heated before the blowpipe.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To bring by heat into the state of vapor, which, on cooling, returns again to the solid state.
  • transitive verb To refine and exalt; to heighten; to elevate.
  • transitive verb (Psychology) To redirect the energy (of sexual or other biological drives) into a more socially acceptable or constructive form.
  • noun (Chem.) A product obtained by sublimation; hence, also, a purified product so obtained.
  • noun (Chem.) mercuric chloride. See Corrosive sublimate under Corrosive.
  • adjective Brought into a state of vapor by heat, and again condensed as a solid.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive, intransitive, physics To change state from a solid to a gas (or from a gas to a solid) without passing through the liquid state.
  • verb To purify or refine a substance through such a change of state.
  • verb transitive, psychoanalysis To modify the natural expression of a sexual or primitive instinct in a socially acceptable manner; to divert the energy of such an instinct into some acceptable activity.
  • verb archaic To raise to a place of honor.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the product of vaporization of a solid
  • adjective made pure
  • verb direct energy or urges into useful activities
  • verb vaporize and then condense right back again
  • verb make more subtle or refined
  • verb change or cause to change directly from a solid into a vapor without first melting
  • verb remove impurities from, increase the concentration of, and separate through the process of distillation


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin sublīmāre, sublīmāt-, to elevate, from sublīmis, uplifted.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word sublimate.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.