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

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 That tension is the narrative; change is essential to the tradition. David Cantwell, The New Yorker, "Ken Burns’s Delightful “Country Music” Gets the Big Things Mostly Right," 15 Sep. 2019 The Frenchman's ball-playing abilities are essential to the brand of football Guardiola demands from his squad. SI.com, "Why Aymeric Laporte's Injury Makes Liverpool Favourites for the Premier League Title," 14 Sep. 2019 Signing Scouts up for summer camp, or high-adventure trips, are essential to keeping teenagers interested in the program. Author: Samantha Schmidt, Kayla Epstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Lawsuits. Possible bankruptcy. Declining members. Is there a future for the Boy Scouts?," 14 Sep. 2019 Shoppers are essential to providing the core service the company offers. Brittany Meiling, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego city attorney sues grocery delivery app Instacart in gig economy action," 13 Sep. 2019 Getting started Babak Javid knew that assembling a strong research team would be essential to his success as a new faculty member at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "When Europeans do science in China," 11 Sep. 2019 Teen Vogue caught up with Abrams to discuss efforts to suppress the youth vote, why everyone should respond to the 2020 census, and why voting rights are essential to the success of every progressive issue. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "Stacey Abrams Wants You To Know That Politicians Are Trying To Keep You From Voting," 6 Sep. 2019 Nanotechnology, which is developed at the impossibly small size of one billionth of a meter, is essential to everything from more powerful chips in smartphones to finding cures for the worst diseases. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Crazy Powerful Optical Ruler Measures All the Way Down to the Nanoscale," 6 Sep. 2019 Proponents tie passage of the bill to the road funding debate, saying easy access to gravel used for road building is essential to containing costs and stretching Michigan’s limited road dollars. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Battle heating up over who decides whether you have a gravel pit in your backyard," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Keep all of your essentials on the side of your fridge with this sleek magnetic organizer. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "This Kitchen's the Perfect Blend of Rustic Charm and Modern Design," 9 Sep. 2019 Look for good deals on camping essentials like headlamps, sleeping bags, and Yeti coolers. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Early Labor Day deals from Amazon, Walmart, and more," 8 Aug. 2019 Instead, leave room for all of your essentials and add one or two impactful pieces like a statement lamp and a family photo dressed up in a fancy frame. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "How to transform a dorm room into something special," 29 July 2019 The Byzantine links of this classic silver bracelet make for an elegant upgrade to your daily jewelry essentials. Amanda Randone, refinery29.com, "Amazon Prime Day Just Got A Whole Lot Shinier With These Jewelry Steals," 15 July 2019 No matter what your Memorial Day Weekend plans are, pencil in some time to stock up on all your summer fashion and beauty essentials with these seriously good deals. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Best Memorial Day Sales to Shop This Weekend," 21 May 2019 Pre-sale: August 24 on the Joss & Main app August 26 - September 4 Score free shipping and up to 80% off everything from furniture and lighting to bedding and storage essentials. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "The Labor Day Deals That Are Worth Your Time," 20 Aug. 2019 Up to 30% off: Home Depot's sale on back to school essentialsHere's another great reason to shop Home Depot today. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "10 stores having amazing sales this weekend on home decor and essentials," 3 Aug. 2019 The simplest of the cheeses to make is farmer’s cheese, which is cheesemaking stripped to its barest essentials. Daniel Neman, Twin Cities, "Homemade cheese? No whey!," 31 July 2019

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

31 Oct 2019

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
How to pronounce essential (audio)

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

a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!