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

Example Sentences

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
Flowers also attract and support pollinators, which is essential for some crops such as squash to form fruit. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 30 Nov. 2022 Hot chocolate was essential to stay warm, and popping into the zoo buildings to see some animals also helped keep us from freezing. Kayla Samoy, Chicago Tribune, 30 Nov. 2022 If Connecticut's revamped bonus program for private sector essential workers clears the General Assembly, as expected, the issue of pandemic pay is not over. CBS News, 29 Nov. 2022 Nelson from the biomonitoring team believes a multi-pronged approach is essential. Meera Senthilingam, CNN, 29 Nov. 2022 Patrick Mekari has played well as a stand-in, but Stanley’s elite pass blocking and mobility are essential. Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun, 24 Nov. 2022 In addition, the legislature is expected to set aside $90 million to help provide $1,000 bonuses for essential workers who held jobs in grocery stores, nursing homes, and other outlets during the coronavirus pandemic. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 23 Nov. 2022 Through the years the emphasis of the event has been to provide essential needs. Jim Owczarski, Journal Sentinel, 23 Nov. 2022 Some of TriMet’s board members expressed hesitation about raising the fares, citing concerns about how low-income riders and essential workers could be affected. oregonlive, 9 Nov. 2022
Noun
The humble cocktail shaker is an eternal essential for amateur bartenders, even just as a deep vessel for drinks that need to be stirred. WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 Her body will go through a lot during pregnancy, so a postpartum recovery kit is an essential. Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 17 Nov. 2022 Designed to strengthen the lower body—particularly targeting the inner thighs, abs, glutes, and pelvic floor muscles—this fitness essential is a must-have for any equipment collection. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 10 Nov. 2022 Olive oil is an essential for any home chef, so why not give them a sampler of different infusions? Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 13 Oct. 2022 Best of all, this versatile essential is flattering and comfortable, and comes in standard, petite, and plus size offerings, so no one is left behind. Jennifer Chan, Peoplemag, 23 Aug. 2022 Credited with being lightweight and long-lasting, Fenty's lip luminizer is an essential for your beauty product-loving cousin. Annie O’sullivan, Good Housekeeping, 30 Sep. 2022 These Ray-Ban Stories glasses are an essential for capturing videos and photos at shows or events without having to constantly pull out my phone. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 Sep. 2022 Amazon Prime has become an essential for most households, however, Amazon Prime Student comes with its own unique benefits for students, including a cheaper membership fee. al, 8 Sep. 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.

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 9 Dec. 2022.

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

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