ex·​is·​ten·​tial | \ˌeg-(ˌ)zi-ˈsten(t)-shəl, ˌek-(ˌ)si-\

Definition of existential 

1 : of, relating to, or affirming existence existential propositions

2a : grounded in existence or the experience of existence : empirical

b : having being in time and space

3 [ translation of Danish eksistentiel & German existential ] : existentialist

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Other Words from existential

existentially adverb

Examples of existential in a Sentence

child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim believed that fairy tales help children cope with their existential anxieties and dilemmas

Recent Examples on the Web

Image For the residents in Kew Gardens, Queens, their neighborhood’s three-decades-long existential crisis is coming to an end. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "A Bridge, the Rickety Heart of Kew Gardens, Gets a Reprieve," 12 July 2018 When those funds came through for Brown 2.0, the school district was facing an existential crisis. Daniel Duane, WIRED, "How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco," 28 June 2018 Yes, my affliction is twofold: a whole lot of heartbreak and a good dose of existential crisis. Ginny Brzezinski /, NBC News, "Handling empty nest syndrome," 1 June 2018 Kalanick acknowledged that, in 2015, Uber was facing an existential crisis. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Kalanick agrees: Google was and is “in the lead” in autonomous vehicles," 6 Feb. 2018 Unibail’s strategy—both as a buyer and seller—faces numerous pitfalls at a time when retail real estate is facing an existential challenge from online shopping. Isobel Lee, WSJ, "Unibail Selling Properties After Big Westfield Deal," 2 July 2018 But Lesko also had strong general election backing from a House Republican leadership that generally regards the HFC as an existential challenge to their future. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Arizona Republican Who Squeaked to Victory Joins Right-Wing Caucus," 26 Apr. 2018 Together, the new technocrats and older Chekists present an existential challenge to the Russian political elite. Mikhail Zygar, Time, "Putin Believes He's Destined to Make Russia Great Again. And He's Just Getting Started," 19 Mar. 2018 The latest threat, a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods, would add another $20 billion a year—hardly an existential threat to America’s economic recovery. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Inevitable Death of Global Trade As We Know It," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'existential.' 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 existential

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

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The first known use of existential was in 1656

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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