Word Origin & History
1570s, "affecting inward feelings," from M.Fr. viscéral, from M.L. visceralis "internal," from L. viscera, pl. of viscus "internal organ," of unknown origin. The bowels were regarded as the seat of emotion. The figurative sense vanished after 1640 and the literal sense is first recorded in 1794.
The figurative sense was revived 1940s in arts criticism.