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 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 How to pronounce elementally (audio) \ 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

Tiny spheres of elemental iron called nanophase iron are also produced by space weathering and build up on the outer rims of certain soil grains, causing surfaces to become darker over time. Erica Jawin, Scientific American, "Apollo’s Bounty: The Science of the Moon Rocks," 2 July 2019 Drinks like the pre-Columbian tejate are described in terms of their most accessible textures (in that case, a frothy meringue), and unexpected pairings are refined to their elemental flavors. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Inside the Journey to Reinvent One of the World's Greatest Restaurants," 25 June 2019 Robinson lost his IWGP United States title exactly two weeks ago to Moxley, but the New Japan star known for his wild dreadlocks is battling a far more serious opponent: elemental, existential fears. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "The Week in Wrestling: Juice Robinson Eager to Get ‘Revenge’ on Jon Moxley," 19 June 2019 Not to be outdone, Fulton’s smoky Japanese sweet potato offered both a stunning, deeply elemental taste sensation and a treat for the eyes with its purple flesh, shocking white horseradish and dainty chive blossoms. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "An early taste of Pernoi, one of metro Detroit's most anticipated restaurants ever," 19 June 2019 The program on Thursday was all musical postcards from Scotland — modern, antiquated, elemental, urban — and any words would’ve limited the kind of imagination that listeners can bring to the piece. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Orchestra does Scotland with poetic subtlety (and one bagpipe)," 19 Jan. 2018 There is also a mysterious new character who might have elemental powers similar to Elsa's. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About "Frozen 2"," 13 Feb. 2019 Or Official Rebrand began years before MI’s time in Berlin — not with an idea, or a bag, but rather with something much more elemental: Dirt. Sessa Tate, Teen Vogue, "MI Leggett Is the Non-Binary Designer Fighting to Dismantle Gender Norms," 15 Aug. 2018 And ethical values lose some of their charge when they’re thrown into contention with the elemental shopping values, i.e., function, style, convenience, price. Maya Singer, Vogue, "Is There Really Such a Thing as “Ethical Consumerism?”," 4 Feb. 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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Statistics for elemental

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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

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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