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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Hinch often selects games just prior to off days to sit his regulars — in essence giving them two straight days off. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "George Springer, José Altuve get the day off as Astros continue to rest for postseason," 15 Sep. 2019 In essence, Tao’s results says that any counterexamples to the Collatz Conjecture are going to be incredibly rare. Dave Linkletter, Popular Mechanics, "Mathematicians Are So Close to Cracking This 82-Year-Old Riddle," 13 Sep. 2019 Dispensing with the filibuster would, in essence, mean that legislation could be passed in the Senate with a simple majority vote of 51 senators. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Democrats clash on health care and immigration in third debate," 13 Sep. 2019 Boston College remains the smallest contributor of the majors: $358,000, or enough to in essence cover the cost of city fire services, but no more than that. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 12 Sep. 2019 Sean Manaea’s next start will be Sunday against Detroit, manager Bob Melvin said Thursday, and the A’s in essence are employing a six-man rotation at least for the next couple of turns through. Susan Slusser, SFChronicle.com, "Sean Manaea to start Sunday in A’s six-man rotation," 5 Sep. 2019 Some like to talk about improvements made; others want, in essence, an A for effort. Evelyn Iritani, Quartz at Work, "White men and minority groups have different definitions of “sufficient” diversity," 5 Sep. 2019 In essence, the other device has no choice but to accept. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "New Attack exploiting serious Bluetooth weakness can intercept sensitive data," 17 Aug. 2019 The oligarchs who were, in essence, the shareholders of the party paid Kostya more deference than the waitresses at the Hyatt were paying us. Sam Patten, WIRED, "Kostya and Me: How Sam Patten Got Ensnared in Mueller’s Probe," 14 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about essence

Statistics for essence

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for essence

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on essence

What made you want to look up essence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

ancient or antiquated

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Word Puzzles

  • alt 57589b2b4c6a3
  • Which answer pairs best with each of the following words? living, estate, club, music, road, mile
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!