el·​e·​men·​tal | \ˌe-lə-ˈmen-tᵊl \

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 plural All 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 \ adverb

Examples of elemental in a Sentence


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

Most of these works were created before the advent of Goatse itself, but of course the shapes and body parts involved are fairly elemental. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Celebrated artist Richard Serra has been making Goatses his entire career," 23 Sep. 2018 Few are as elemental as Timber to Table trips that specialize in elk hunts in Colorado. Elaine Glusac, New York Times, "Eating and Drinking Your Way Through A Trip, and Learning Something in the Process," 18 May 2018 Another thread in Serra’s work is painted circles, dozens of abstract compositions created from the same elemental shape. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Celebrated artist Richard Serra has been making Goatses his entire career," 23 Sep. 2018 The 24th’s Full Moon in your sign is a chance to celebrate your increasing mastery of your elemental burn, and your ability to wield these fires to warm and cook exactly what’s feeding your soul. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes September 2018," 1 Sep. 2018 The iron changed the elemental composition of the gas, and therefore, the stars. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Milky Way Died 7 Billion Years Ago And Came Back To Life," 24 Aug. 2018 Zorn’s saxophone and Laswell’s bass are elemental forces — like lightning and thunder — visceral, tangible and looking to touch a nerve. Joshua Zucker, SFChronicle.com, "John Zorn and Bill Laswell make rare duo appearance at the Chapel," 11 July 2018 In Infinity War, they are referred to as elemental crystals. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "What are the infinity stones that drive the plot of 'Avengers: Infinity War'?," 25 Apr. 2018 In the context of North Korea and the United States — and the fears some felt about coming to these Olympics, given the political situation that envelops them — the symbolism of the Olympic opening felt not only slick but downright elemental. USA TODAY, "At Olympics, fiery optics both entertaining and symbolic," 9 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for elemental

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elemental

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

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More Definitions for elemental



English Language Learners Definition of elemental

: basic and important

: having the power of a force of nature

: of or relating to a chemical element


el·​e·​men·​tal | \ˌel-ə-ˈment-ᵊl \

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).


to enclose within walls

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