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 elemental (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 But the Ravens played with an elemental power that has defined them in their best moments over the past three seasons. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 34-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys," 9 Dec. 2020 The two elemental factors are exactly why tropical storms as a whole have difficulty forming in December and in other off-season months. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Facts: How many storms have formed in December?," 2 Dec. 2020 In his own words, Bost said his cooking philosophy involves taking ideas down to their bones for an elemental approach. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: At Jeune et Jolie, the new and unexpected emerges," 29 Nov. 2020 The kitchen, meanwhile, has an open layout that privileges elemental materials — there are exposed wooden ceiling beams, walls finished in concrete and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that frame vistas of towering cliffs. Michaela Trimble, New York Times, "A Glass House in the Mexican Desert," 29 Oct. 2020 Meanwhile, with deuterium’s behavior now better understood, uncertainties in other primordial nuclear reactions and elemental abundances become more pressing. Quanta Magazine, "Physicists Pin Down Nuclear Reaction From Moments After the Big Bang," 11 Nov. 2020 By employing an elemental shape that also has personal meaning, Sabur links the two poles of her art. Washington Post, "This artist is inspired by landscape, whether terrestrial, cosmic or internal," 4 Nov. 2020 The Wildcat formation brings out something elemental in Trey Burton. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Trey Burton's comfort in Colts' Wildcat formation opens a lot of tantalizing possibilities," 2 Nov. 2020 The image of vocal terror is among our most universal and elemental, from Edvard Munch to Janet Leigh. Melena Ryzik, New York Times, "They Scream! We Scream!," 29 Oct. 2020

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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Last Updated

16 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elemental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elemental. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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