es·​sence ˈe-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio)
: the permanent as contrasted with the accidental element of being
: the individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence
a painting that captures the essence of the land
: the properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is
: the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person
the essence of the issue
: one that possesses or exhibits a quality in abundance as if in concentrated form
she was the essence of punctuality
: 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
: a volatile substance or constituent (as of perfume)
: 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web His smooth, soulful voice captured the essence of Sheeran’s romantic ballad, and his heartfelt delivery resonated with everyone in the room. Jessica Lynch, Billboard, 17 July 2024 Biden momentarily set aside his profound differences with Trump, and his firm belief that the election would decide fundamental questions about the future of the country and its essence. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 14 July 2024 Judd said that time is of the essence for Democrats to replace Biden with a candidate who can defeat him. Bruce Haring, Deadline, 12 July 2024 This is an easygoing, respectful tribute to hip-hop’s essence and realness, full of affectionate references to the music that’s still close to Common’s heart after all these years. Simon Vozick-Levinson, Rolling Stone, 12 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for essence 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'essence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near essence

Cite this Entry

“Essence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


es·​sence ˈes-ən(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio)
: the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is
the essence of love is unselfishness
: a substance physically or chemically separated from another substance (as a plant or drug) and having the special qualities (as odor) of the original substance
essence of peppermint
: the scent of something usually sweet-smelling

Medical Definition


es·​sence ˈes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio)
: 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)
: an alcoholic solution especially of an essential oil
essence of peppermint
: an artificial preparation (as an alcoholic solution of one or more esters) used especially in flavoring
: elixir

Legal Definition


es·​sence ˈes-ᵊns How to pronounce essence (audio)
: 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
: the predominant purpose of a thing
the essence of the contract

More from Merriam-Webster on essence

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