el·​e·​men·​tal | \ ˌe-lə-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce elemental (audio) \

Definition of elemental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or being an element specifically : existing as an uncombined chemical element
b(1) : of, relating to, or being the basic or essential constituent of something : fundamental elemental biological needs
(2) : simple, uncomplicated elemental food
c : of, relating to, or dealing with the rudiments of something : elementary taught elemental crafts to the children
d : forming an integral part : inherent an elemental sense of rhythm
2 : of, relating to, or resembling a great force of nature the rains come with elemental violence elemental passions


plural elementals

Definition of elemental (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a supernatural being : spirit "It's a heritage. My mother was a witch and her mother was a witch. My specialty is (prophetic) dreaming. We believe elementals do exist," said Lady L …— D. L. Stephenson
2 : an elementary part or principle usually pluralAll objects consist of smaller objects. … Lamps, bicycles, and houses are compound objects made of constituent parts, or elementals.— Alan L. LaityThese two epistemologies exist in distinct dimensions: science struggles to discover the elementals of our material existence through empiricism, and theology strives to describe the universality of our … existence through faith.— Jack Hitt

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Other Words from elemental


elementally \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈmen-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce elementally (audio) \ adverb

Examples of elemental in a Sentence

Adjective an elemental difference between the two Their elemental passion led to tragedy. the elemental power of the storm an elemental analysis of the solution
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Thus, while the notion of magical, elemental spirits imbuing the land with life is an intriguing idea, the backbone of this mythology is almost nonexistent from the start. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Frozen 2' and Its Unanswered Elsa Questions," 23 Nov. 2019 Yet none of the new elemental symbols looks as conventional as viewers might expect. Michael Cavna, Washington Post, "How ‘Frozen II’s’ new creatures are enchanting marvels of design," 22 Nov. 2019 Much as Lucas acknowledged that his movies were indebted to the cinema of Akira Kurosawa (Star Wars has the same broad plot strokes as The Hidden Fortress), Favreau is drawing on elemental tropes for a smaller tale. David Sims, The Atlantic, "How The Mandalorian Can Work for Disney+," 18 Nov. 2019 And it is laced with elemental metaphors — fire, water, cold, heat — that make its story of desire, mystery, and destruction feel all the more visceral. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The 21 best movies of 2018," 14 Dec. 2018 These jumbo stars would create supernova remnants that have unique elemental signatures. Quanta Magazine, "The Most-Magnetic Objects in the Universe Attract New Controversy," 28 Oct. 2019 Growing up at the edge of the British Columbian wilderness gave 32-year-old artist Sharona Franklin an elemental connection to nature. Adrienne Matei, Bon Appétit, "This Artist Is Making Psychedelic Jelly Worlds to Explore Disability," 21 Oct. 2019 But rave reviews and the marquee power of Gyllenhaal and, to a lesser extent, Sturridge, showed that this kind of spare, elemental storytelling could work. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Sea Wall/A Life' Becomes First Broadway Show of the 2019-20 Season in the Black," 1 Oct. 2019 Per the paper, an elemental analysis of the copper band found on St. Catherines Island off the coast of Georgia pinpointed its origins to copper mines near Lake Superior, where similar copper objects appear in connection with early burials. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Grave Hints at Interaction Between Early Humans Living in Great Lakes, American Southeast," 16 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elemental.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elemental


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for elemental

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The first known use of elemental was in the 15th century

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Statistics for elemental

Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Elemental.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elemental. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for elemental


How to pronounce elemental (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of elemental

somewhat formal : basic and important
literary : having the power of a force of nature
technical : of or relating to a chemical element


el·​e·​men·​tal | \ ˌel-ə-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce elemental (audio) \

Medical Definition of elemental

: of, relating to, or being an element specifically : existing as an uncombined chemical element

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Comments on elemental

What made you want to look up elemental? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

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