1

essential

adjective es·sen·tial \ i-ˈsen(t)-shəl \
|Updated on: 14 Jun 2018

Definition of essential

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 2
3 : idiopathic
  • essential disease
  • essential hypertension

essentially

play \i-ˈsench-lē, -ˈsen(t)-shə-\ adverb

essentialness

play \i-ˈsen(t)-shəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of essential in a Sentence

  1. As a fighter pilot, he knows that good vision is essential.

  2. Free speech is an essential right of citizenship.

  3. The essential problem with this plan is that it will cost too much.

  4. There's no essential difference between the two products.

Recent Examples of essential from the Web

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

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

essential

noun

Definition of essential

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

Examples of essential in a Sentence

  1. the essentials for success include a willingness to work and the right attitude

  2. this will be just an introduction to the essentials of computer programming

Recent Examples of essential from the Web

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

15th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler


ESSENTIAL Defined for English Language Learners

essential

Definition of essential for English Language Learners

  • : extremely important and necessary

  • : very basic


essential

Definition of essential for English Language Learners

  • : something that is basic or necessary : something essential


ESSENTIAL Defined for Kids

1

essential

adjective es·sen·tial \ i-ˈsen-shəl \

Definition of essential for Students

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.

essentially

adverb

2

essential

noun

Definition of essential for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

essential

adjective es·sen·tial \ i-ˈsen-chəl \

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 RaloffScience News24 June 1989
— see essential amino acid — compare nonessential
3 : having no obvious or known cause : idiopathic
  • essential disease


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