essential

adjective
es·​sen·​tial | \ i-ˈsen(t)-shəl How to pronounce essential (audio) \

Definition of essential

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or constituting essence : inherent
2a : of the utmost importance : basic, indispensable, necessary an essential requirement for admission to college
b : being a substance that is not synthesized by the body in a quantity sufficient for normal health and growth and that must be obtained from the diet a vegetable oil rich in essential fatty acids — see also essential amino acid — compare nonessential sense 2
3 : idiopathic essential disease essential hypertension

essential

noun

Definition of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something basic the essentials of astronomy
2 : something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from essential

Adjective

essentially \ i-​ˈsench-​lē How to pronounce essentially (audio) , -​ˈsen(t)-​shə-​ \ adverb
essentialness \ i-​ˈsen(t)-​shəl-​nəs How to pronounce essentialness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for essential

Adjective

essential, fundamental, vital, cardinal mean so important as to be indispensable. essential implies belonging to the very nature of a thing and therefore being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character. conflict is essential in drama fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse. fundamental principles of algebra vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation. cut off from vital supplies cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends. a cardinal rule in buying a home

Examples of essential in a Sentence

Adjective

As a fighter pilot, he knows that good vision is essential. Free speech is an essential right of citizenship. The essential problem with this plan is that it will cost too much. There's no essential difference between the two products.

Noun

the essentials for success include a willingness to work and the right attitude this will be just an introduction to the essentials of computer programming
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But collaboration on beneficial AI is essential too. Christian Science Monitor, "Technology," 7 June 2019 Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at the June 4 meeting said this particular transfer is essential because the portion of funds covering machinery and equipment was running short. Gregory Tejeda, Post-Tribune, "Fire Department fund transfer approved in Gary," 6 June 2019 People were prepared to trust us, which was essential for that to be successful. Karen Bliss, Billboard, "NXNE Turns 25: Michael Hollett on His Evolving Fest, Embracing Esports & Missed Opportunities on Cannabis," 4 June 2019 Even Michael Jordan played some PG, so developing skills in ball-handling and getting experience decision-making from the PG position, will be essential for Jaylen to play PG full-time. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "‘Just the thought of it made my heart speed up a little’: The best comments this week on seattletimes.com," 31 May 2019 Such data is essential to show what works and what doesn’t, educators say. Eric Litke, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kids in Crisis: Bullying is everywhere, but data on it isn't. Could tracking help?," 16 May 2019 Our community of fellow caregivers through my work as a Peer Mentor with the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Dole Caregiver Fellows is also essential. Colleen Johnson, Woman's Day, "How My Veteran Husband Copes with His War Injuries," 19 May 2019 Every detail should be included in a contract, such as payment schedules, timetables, materials to be purchased, and other essential items. Brett Martin, House Beautiful, "Here Are The 8 Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Contractor," 26 Dec. 2018 Once everything is sorted, start packing non-essential items (think: holiday decorations and craft supplies). Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Follow This Weekly Moving Checklist for a Smooth, Stress-Free Transition," 5 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Just use drawer organizers and edit down your items to the essentials. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Home Edit Founders Share Their Top Organizing Tips for 2019," 29 Jan. 2019 There are a few gear essentials everyone who drives off-road should carry, like a winch and a pair of Maxtrax recovery boards to extract you from sticky situations. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "This Pocket-Sized Gadget Airs Down Your Tires For Off-Roading in Seconds," 9 Jan. 2019 There's no such thing as having too many of your home essentials. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "40 Creative Things to Do When You're Bored to Pass the Time," 23 May 2019 Vogueworld 30 Very Convincing Reasons to Make Tie-Dye Your Springtime Uniform Common wisdom would dictate that wardrobe essentials should be black, beige, or navy. Vogue, "Zara Tie-Dye Skirt," 16 Mar. 2019 Besides bedding, the home essentials brand also offers for elevated basics for dining and bathing. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "Best Cyber Monday deals on furniture, bedding, and more," 24 Nov. 2018 Pack the essentials Whether your hike lasts a couple hours or several days, having appropriate gear is crucial. Crystal Paul, The Seattle Times, "Expert tips and 10 essentials for staying safe in the wilderness," 21 Aug. 2018 Here, Tran decodes her look, from the easygoing essentials that get her work-ready to her favorite flea markets across the globe. Vogue, "An L.A. Jewelry Designer Decodes Her Easygoing Executive Style," 9 Apr. 2019 In order to figure out the essentials of the first-aid kit and which ones are worth paying for, Popular Mechanics spoke with Col. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "The 7 Best First Aid Kits For Any Situation," 26 July 2018

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about essential

Statistics for essential

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for essential

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for essential

essential

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of essential

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: extremely important and necessary
: very basic

essential

noun

English Language Learners Definition of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is basic or necessary : something essential

essential

adjective
es·​sen·​tial | \ i-ˈsen-shəl How to pronounce essential (audio) \

Kids Definition of essential

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extremely important or necessary It is essential that we all meet here.
2 : forming or belonging to the basic part of something Free speech is an essential right of citizenship.

Other Words from essential

essentially adverb

essential

noun

Kids Definition of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is basic or necessary I packed the bare essentials for the trip.

essential

adjective
es·​sen·​tial | \ i-ˈsen-chəl How to pronounce essential (audio) \

Medical Definition of essential

1 : being, relating to, or containing an essence an essential odor
2 : being a substance that is not synthesized by the body in a quantity sufficient for normal health and growth and that must be obtained from the diet The body converts linoleic acid—an essential fatty acid that makes up 60 percent of corn oil—into arachidonic acid.— Janet Raloff, Science News, 24 June 1989 — see essential amino acid — compare nonessential
3 : having no obvious or known cause : idiopathic essential disease

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on essential

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!