existential

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

It’s taken me a while to get back into the cooking groove after a solid few months of eating out—and falling into a funk of existential dread at the hellscape the world is becoming. Jesse Sparks, Bon Appetit, "This Queer Cooking Show Reinvigorated My Pride in Home Cooking," 22 June 2018 For sure, there’s some level of existential dread inherent in the idea that we might be surpassed and/or made redundant by our own AI creations. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Detroit: Become Human review: Robotic in all of the wrong ways," 24 May 2018 Ariño de la Rubia: For them adversarial excellence is existential. Nicholas Thompson, WIRED, "How Facebook Wants to Improve the Quality of Your News Feed," 23 May 2018 The Hecks have no politics; their condition is existential. Robert Lloyd, latimes.com, "Before 'Roseanne's' revival, 'The Middle' carried the torch for America's heartland," 22 May 2018 To a Persian Gulf oil company, Iranian threats are existential, whereas state election boards would want to know if, for instance, the Russians had compromised their systems, said FireEye Director of Intelligence Analysis John Hultquist. Ellen Nakashima And Aaron Gregg, Washington Post, "They’re on the lookout for malware that can kill," 27 Apr. 2018 Sci-fi, dark humour, existential dread, but also thematic links beneath the surface such as Gnosticism and counter-culture beat generation philosophy. Will Nevin, OregonLive.com, "Interview | Writer Ryan O'Sullivan, artist Plaid Klaus go inside Image Comics' 'Void Trip'," 16 Apr. 2018 Scabrously funny, ineffably sad and filled with breathtaking empathy for our flesh-and-blood failings, Stephen Karam's play turns the dinner-table dramedy on its head with a heaping serving of existential dread. Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, "Loves, losses of Everyfamily exposed in 'The Humans' (reviews)," 13 Apr. 2018 So The Shape of Water was her pick on a cold night not long after Christmas, when the warmth and nostalgia and omnipresent red glow haven’t all been smothered by winter’s existential dread. Esquire, "And the Best Picture Should Be...," 23 Feb. 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.

See More

First Known Use of existential

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about existential

Share existential

Statistics for existential

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for existential

The first known use of existential was in 1656

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on existential

What made you want to look up existential? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!