essential

1 of 2

adjective

es·​sen·​tial i-ˈsen(t)-shəl How to pronounce essential (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or constituting essence : inherent
2
a
: 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
essentialness noun

essential

2 of 2

noun

1
: something basic
the essentials of astronomy
2
: something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable
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
The last piece is particularly important to life science companies, where consistency is essential to daily operations. Mark Zettl, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 For some, re-creating the 19th-century spire was essential; while for others, mimicking history risked writing ourselves — and our 21st-century design sensibilities — out of it. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 The encoder compresses input data into a lower-dimensional space, known as the latent (or embedding) space, that preserves the most essential aspects of the data. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Feb. 2024 As the site of so much activity during rap’s formative years, Philadelphia is an essential component for anyone seeking to understand hip-hop’s early development. John Morrison, SPIN, 13 Feb. 2024 The tower is intended to house what real estate experts and economists call essential workers — teachers, police officers, local state prosecutors. Rebecca San Juan, Miami Herald, 13 Feb. 2024 Choosing a provider that ethically sources their residential IP addresses is also essential. Advertising Content From Smartproxy, PCMAG, 1 Feb. 2024 And while the winter blues can hit anyone — even leaders — getting their teams reenergized and ready to tackle the year ahead is essential for leaders looking to hit their business goals and encourage a happy, healthy culture. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, 1 Feb. 2024 The fentanyl explosion, while a growing political concern in Washington, remains less critical to Biden’s reelection prospects than blocking immigrants at the southern border — a challenge in which López Obrador’s cooperation is essential. Tim Golden, ProPublica, 31 Jan. 2024
Noun
Wing Aviation has a partnership with Walmart to deliver quick meals, groceries, household essentials and over the counter medications, according to the company’s website. Elizabeth Campbell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 As Presidents Day approaches, so does the opportunity to upgrade your bedding and bath essentials. Kayla Kitts, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Several pocket options including a separate zippered section and internal key hook help keep your essentials organized and in place while running, hiking, or running errands. Lauren Breedlove, Travel + Leisure, 15 Feb. 2024 Keep your kitchen tidy, spices within arm’s reach, and your cooking essentials organized with this convenient and stylish solution. Hyphensocial Contributors, Rolling Stone, 14 Feb. 2024 But the proceedings, carried via live audio on cable news, also had two essentials of must-watch (or -hear) TV: High stakes and novelty. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 These shimmery options can be just as pigmented and blinding as their powdery counterparts, all while being extremely easy to build and blend with the rest of your complexion essentials. Denise Primbet, Glamour, 8 Feb. 2024 Designed with a versatile palette and a leather pull, this layering essential adds texture and style with ease. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 8 Feb. 2024 These include essentials like lidocaine injections, local anesthetic needed for surgery and even for simpler procedures like stitches. Jen Christensen, CNN, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'essential.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near essential

Cite this Entry

“Essential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essential. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

essential

1 of 2 adjective
es·​sen·​tial i-ˈsen-chəl How to pronounce essential (audio)
1
: forming or belonging to the essence
free speech is an essential right of citizenship
2
: containing or having the character of an easily evaporated essence
essential oils
3
: important in the highest degree : necessary
food is essential to life
essentiality
-ˌsen-chē-ˈal-ət-ē
noun
essentially adverb
essentialness noun

essential

2 of 2 noun
: something basic, necessary, or indispensable
the essentials for success

Medical Definition

essential

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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