Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Latin, 16th century
Relating to the viscera.
Relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.
Examples of Visceral in a sentence
"A visceral reaction is an emotion one feels in one’s guts."
"Visceral art often exposes the viewer to intense images and provokes equally intense emotions."
Popularity Over Time
“Visceral” is based on the Latin “viscus,” meaning the internal organs (or “bowels”) of the torso, which are known in English as “viscera.” As an adjective, “visceral” refers to that which affects the body’s internal organs, and is used in both a literal and figurative sense.
Did you Know?
Those who don’t know the word “visceral” still likely know “gut feeling,” which is a more accessible expression of the same idea. Thanks to the late-medieval idea that the body’s viscera are a repository for feelings, wisdom, and instincts, English-speakers have long associated the gut with emotions of many kinds — from uncertainty to repulsion to trust to gratitude. Any time a person reports a feeling deep in their guts, what they’re describing is a visceral experience.