1580s, "expressing lofty ideas in an elevated manner," from Middle French sublime (15c.), or directly from Latin sublimis "uplifted, high, borne aloft, lofty, exalted, eminent, distinguished," possibly originally "sloping up to the lintel," from sub "up to" (see sub-) + limen "lintel, threshold, sill" (see limit (n.)). The sublime (n.) "the sublime part of anything, that which is stately or imposing" is from 1670s. For Sublime Porte, former title of the Ottoman government, see Porte.
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