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



Definition of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from essential


essentialness \ i-​ˈsen(t)-​shəl-​nəs How to pronounce essential (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for essential


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 These conversations are an essential part of the educational process. Kelsey Koberg, Fox News, 20 May 2022 An essential part of this process is trust in the leadership team to not only offer transparency into the decisions being made, but to also consider the perspectives and feelings of their team members. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 19 May 2022 Use this shaving cream on its own for an effortless shave, or pamper yourself with the full three-step routine and turn shaving into an essential part of your self-care ritual. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 If caffeine is an essential part of his mornings, arrange a basket with his favorite coffee blends, then add some dark chocolate, a new mug, or biscotti for a special touch. Erin Cavoto, Country Living, 12 May 2022 Meanwhile air-conditioning has the potential to equalize conditions between different countries as an essential part of climate justice. Brooke Bowser, Scientific American, 10 May 2022 Keeping the world’s attention on Taliban abuses is an essential part of that duty. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Still, there will be few races that will more fully explore the issue of why Democrats have lost ground with voters who once were an essential part of their coalition, and whether there’s any way to halt and reverse those trends. Dan Balz, Anchorage Daily News, 7 May 2022 Despite his vision being an essential part of the company’s revival, Ford was discouraged from seeking the spotlight, as then-chairman Maurizio Gucci’s wanted to keep its designers anonymous. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 2 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Light enough to be sported on a summer evening, but comfy enough to hold off any chilly nights, denim outerwear is a year-round essential. Thomas Hindle, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 May 2022 Has the essential been retained, or has too much been erased? Rafia Zakaria, The New Republic, 5 May 2022 Babies are unable to produce enough thyroid hormone, a chemical essential for healthy growth and development., 29 Apr. 2022 The massager also has the lowest fee for adding a two-year protection plan at just $5.99, a small price to pay to protect your new after-work essential. Kate Addicott, Forbes, 21 June 2021 Cast iron pans have become a new kitchen essential. Giovana Gelhoren,, 15 Apr. 2022 But now that the wave of early adopters has crested, does the bidet still feel like a modern essential? Sal Vaglica, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 According to Grayson, this concealer is an absolute essential. Rachel Dube, SELF, 7 Apr. 2022 Whether its the brand’s Shape Tape Concealer, its Lights Camera Lashes Mascara, or its Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush, Tarte products are an indisputable essential, as demonstrated by a laundry list of makeup gurus everywhere. Jamila Stewart, Essence, 11 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of essential


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for essential

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near essential



essential amino acid

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Statistics for essential

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Essential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for essential


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



Kids Definition of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

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


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 — see essential amino acid — compare nonessential
3 : having no obvious or known cause : idiopathic essential disease

More from Merriam-Webster on essential

Nglish: Translation of essential for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of essential for Arabic Speakers


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