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

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 Imagine triangles spinning around a shower curtain rod inside a beer keg—that is an elemental description of the screaming Wankel rotary engine. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "The Rhombus Rotary Engine: Can a Quirky New Design Top the Famous Wankel?," 18 Jan. 2019 Our personal definitions of paradise tend to involve elemental, private pleasures. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Baha Mar: The Easiest Beach Paradise in the Bahamas," 1 Nov. 2018 By examining the structure and elemental composition, the researchers found that the lithium was not forming a lithium carbide, as expected. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "High-density lithium in graphene: An intriguing battery possibility," 29 Nov. 2018 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

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

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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Comments on elemental

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having a desire to acquire more things

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