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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Trump courted the high-stakes meeting and then dropped it, perhaps because the choreography of the agreement signing -- the most essential and delicate part of any deal -- was poorly handled. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "John Bolton's firing won't end the confusion over US foreign policy," 11 Sep. 2019 The potential for corruption isn’t hard to spot: The airport is a small but essential transportation center for anyone looking to spend some leisure time at the nearby Trump Turnberry golf resort, which Trump owns. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "US military spent $17.2 million at Scottish airport near Trump resort," 9 Sep. 2019 Which doesn’t mean there wasn’t the heavy but essential lifting that Telluride is known for. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "From “The Two Popes” to a Judy Garland biopic, the best films from the 2019 Telluride Film Festival," 5 Sep. 2019 Like many times throughout history, Black people continue to be erased from our contributions to some of the most innovative and essential inventions and resources. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Meet The Black Woman Who Is Honoring The Legacy Of Enslaved Man Who Taught Jack Daniel How To Make Whiskey," 30 Aug. 2019 But in treating her like a member of our household, essential to the family unit for no utilitarian purpose but merely as a recipient of the generous spirit of my parents, was, to me, an American thing to witness. Marlo Safi, National Review, "The American Art of Obsessing over Your Pets," 24 Aug. 2019 Debt buyers sell and resell debts for years on end, typically without account records verifying that the debts are accurate, making the validation notice even more essential. David Vladeck, WIRED, "The Consumer Bureau's Reckless Plan for Debt Collection," 23 Aug. 2019 Formal events and sites marking the Holocaust and other acts of anti-Semitism are of course essential and moving. The Economist, "Historical memorials are not enough to stop anti-Semitism in Europe," 22 Aug. 2019 In many ecosystems, wildfires are a natural and essential phenomenon. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Wildfires are burning around the world. The most alarming is in the Amazon rainforest.," 20 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The five-piece collection, to be unveiled today at an in-store event at London’s flagship John Lewis store, brings together workwear essentials, including a versatile M&S crepe dress, flattering for all sizes, at just £19.50, or $24. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Duchess Meghan Brought the Smart Works Fashion Collection to Life," 12 Sep. 2019 While income has barely inched upwards during the past two decades, costs for essentials such as health care and housing has soared, pinching budgets for many Americans. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Americans' income barely inching up despite economic growth," 10 Sep. 2019 Invest in a few products to keep yourself comfortable Loading up on SPF and investing in a few wardrobe essentials will not only protect your skin, but also keep you comfortable in the heat. Stephanie Mansour, NBC News, "5 tips for exercising outdoors in warm weather," 9 Sep. 2019 Below, shop all the tech, beauty, and lifestyle essentials that help Vogue editors actually survive fashion week—time and time again. Julie Tong, Vogue, "The Must-Have Gadgets and Gear for Fashion Month, According to Vogue Editors," 6 Sep. 2019 Dorian crushed it, stripping all essentials, schedules and routines — everything residents and visitors had taken for granted. Kirk Semple, New York Times, "On Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing," 6 Sep. 2019 This weekend was chock full of savings events and major deals on everything from wardrobe essentials to home goods. Dominique Hobdy, Essence, "Update Your Humble Abode With These Extended Labor Day Sales," 3 Sep. 2019 The Container Store: From now until Sept. 8, take up to 25% off essentials. Jacob Krol, Noelle Ike And Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored, "Labor Day Sales 2019: Your A-Z guide to shop on Sunday," 1 Sep. 2019 In June, my parents would stuff picnic essentials and their six kids into the station wagon and make the short drive out from our Philadelphia home. Richard Brady, National Review, "Valley of the Shadow," 31 Aug. 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.

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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

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Statistics for essential

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for essential

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

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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

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Comments on essential

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