ex·​is·​ten·​tial | \ ˌeg-(ˌ)zi-ˈsten(t)-shəl How to pronounce existential (audio) , 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

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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 Like the British military, American health care faces an existential threat. Andrew Morris-singer And Brian Souza, STAT, 9 May 2022 Indeed, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, doing so would pose an existential threat. New York Times, 3 May 2022 Big tech is an existential threat to free speech and free and fair elections in America. ABC News, 1 May 2022 The campaign was premised on the conviction that climate change, and the world’s response to it, represent an existential threat to Exxon’s business model, and that the company had put its investors’ money at risk by failing to prepare. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 29 Apr. 2022 Our very democracy is on the brink, and how the Times covers that existential threat is of extraordinary importance, especially as crucial elections approach this fall and in 2024. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2022 For them, like their counterparts in a real world afflicted with virulent new strains of old hatreds, the return of society’s repressed bigotry represents the same existential threat that Harper poses to Kirby. Judy Berman, Time, 22 Apr. 2022 Fox’s company viewed the labeling proposal in the state — the first draft of which would have prohibited the company from selling any global blend under its California Olive Ranch name — as an existential threat. Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2022 But now, the existential threat of climate change is raising new questions about the survivability of the species and a Galveston laboratory is on the front lines of research to find answers. John Wayne Ferguson, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Apr. 2022 See More

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

History and Etymology for existential

borrowed from Late Latin existentiālis, exsistentiālis, from existentia, exsistentia existence + Latin -ālis -al entry 1; in the 19th and 20th centuries in part as translation of Danish existentiel (later eksistentiel) & German existentiell

Note: Compare "Existentielt Indlæg" ("existential contribution") in the subtitle of Søren Kierkegaard's Afsluttende uvidenskabelig Efterskrift til de philosophiske Smuler (1846; Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments), used also elsewhere in the work.

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Time Traveler for existential

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The first known use of existential was in 1656

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Existential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/existential. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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Britannica English: Translation of existential for Arabic Speakers


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