essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈe-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Definition of essence

1a : the permanent as contrasted with the accidental element of being
b : the individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence a painting that captures the essence of the land
c : the properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is
2 : the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person the essence of the issue
3 : one that possesses or exhibits a quality in abundance as if in concentrated form she was the essence of punctuality
4a(1) : a constituent or derivative possessing the special qualities (as of a plant or drug) in concentrated form also : a preparation of such an essence or a synthetic substitute
(2) : a volatile substance or constituent (as of perfume)
5 : something that exists : entity
in essence
: in or by its very nature : essentially, basically was in essence an honest person
of the essence
: of the utmost importance time is of the essence

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Examples of essence in a Sentence

The perennial debate about nature and nurture—which is the more potent shaper of the human essence?—is perennially rekindled. — Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 In essence, the positivists were the first sociologists, rejecting both superstition and metaphysics and studying behavior as a natural phenomenon that could be perfected. — Stephan Talty, Mulatto America, 2003 I had come to Orange Cove on a statewide tour, looking for the essence of Latino life in a changing California and a good bowl of the Mexican stew … — Joe Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 20 May 2003 The essence of love is unselfishness. The book's illustrations capture the essence of the story.
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Recent Examples on the Web What eventually becomes sketched upon our hearts and minds by the unseen creator of our abbreviated and continuous interactions with others determines the essence of our individual existence. Mike Masterson, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | MASTERSON ONLINE: Who am I?," 8 Nov. 2020 In a nice bit of scene-setting, the packages are introduced with lyric snippets that capture the honorees’ essence in one radio-friendly bite. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony brings a joyful noise to HBO," 6 Nov. 2020 No one summarized the essence of Beirut better than the late celebrity food writer and chef Anthony Bourdain. Kim Ghattas, The Atlantic, "Lessons From a Place Where the Center Ground is Gone," 1 Nov. 2020 Taking the words of the Pope and using them to inaccurately and sneeringly demean your opponent: That’s the bare essence of Trump and Trumpism. Rex Huppke, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Biden closing campaign on note of unity, while Trump sticks with sound and fury, signifying hate," 28 Oct. 2020 Because to lose candor, spontaneity, passion is to lose the essence of conversations and interviews with the Miami Heat president. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Winderman: Pat Riley’s Finals ‘asterisk’ neither headline news nor Heat hubris | Commentary," 26 Oct. 2020 With his passing, the essence of Minnesota sports has taken a blow. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: COVID deaths, Third District race, Minneapolis police, Sid Hartman," 21 Oct. 2020 The line captured the essence of the role Trump has chosen to play in the reality drama of his tenure. David Lauter Washington Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times, "About last night: Trump, Biden debate long distance," 16 Oct. 2020 And yet, with the experts confounded, Lakers-Heat Game 5 revealed the very essence of greatness on the highest stage. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Dull-looking NBA Finals now approaching a classic," 10 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'essence.' 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 essence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for essence

Middle English essencia, from Latin essentia, from esse to be — more at is

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Time Traveler for essence

Time Traveler

The first known use of essence was in the 14th century

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Statistics for essence

Last Updated

16 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Essence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essence. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for essence

essence

noun
How to pronounce essence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of essence

: the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is
: a substance that contains in very strong form the special qualities (such as the taste and smell) of the thing from which it is taken

essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈe-sᵊns How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Kids Definition of essence

1 : the basic part of something Freedom is the essence of democracy.
2 : a substance made from a plant or drug and having its special qualities

essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Medical Definition of essence

1 : a substance considered to possess in high degree the predominant qualities of a natural product (as a plant or drug) from which it is extracted (as by distillation or infusion)
b : an alcoholic solution especially of an essential oil essence of peppermint
c : an artificial preparation (as an alcoholic solution of one or more esters) used especially in flavoring
d : elixir

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essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈes-ᵊns How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Legal Definition of essence

1 : the real or ultimate nature of a thing : the properties that make a thing what it is his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreementUnited Steel Workers v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960) — see also essence test
2 : the predominant purpose of a thing the essence of the contract
of the essence
: of the utmost importance specifically : so material in nature that failure to satisfy its requirements constitutes a breach of contract time is of the essence

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Comments on essence

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