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)
b : odor, 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

Randall has been so busy trying to attain the essence of his father, he's neglected his family. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This is Us Season 3 Episode 10: Randall Wins the Race as He and Beth Reach an Impasse," 16 Jan. 2019 These midcentury touches are paired with bold local modern art—like a show-stopping mural by artist Justus Roe—to merge the essence of classic Chicago and its contemporary creative scene. Allie Weiss, ELLE Decor, "5 Midcentury-Modern Landmarks You Need to See in the Midwest," 6 Dec. 2018 On the second couch was another man, this one in his mid-thirties and wearing a suit, his cologne the essence of a crisp morning in the mountains. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Google’s former PR boss Jessica Powell wrote a satirical novel about tech and published it all on Medium," 2 Oct. 2018 That time has passed, but with Clinique's revamp of its Happy fragrance line, the brand is striving to recapture the essence of feeling good. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Clinique Is Revamping Its Iconic Happy Perfume," 6 Sep. 2018 The mistakes were entertaining, but the essence of the story remained: It was about inspired strangers working within their means to help each other. Amanda Needham, chicagotribune.com, "Remember when I painted a huge note for the thief who stole my bike? Here's how the story ends.," 10 July 2018 There is no quicker and more revealing way to explore the essence of a nation than through its food. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "10 iconic American foods for Fourth of July and the best places to get them in Phoenix," 3 July 2018 Here the essence of poet and composer became one, and the piece made the case that the mundane in life can be a window into greater meaning when framed by the right artists. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, "The Crossing choir premieres vivid new Kile Smith work," 1 July 2018 Box crab is arranged in a circle on a plate with seaweed, served with a rich double consommé made with the crab and seasoned table side by a server delivering the essence of coconut and coffee via eyedroppers. Michael Bauer, SFChronicle.com, "Atelier Crenn: SF’s newest 4-star restaurant," 29 June 2018

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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Statistics for essence

Last Updated

1 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for essence

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

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More Definitions for essence

essence

noun

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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