existential

adjective
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
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

White walkers have never been its true existential threat; in GOT, death could come at the hands of any of us, at any moment. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "It’s (Past) Time to Say Goodbye to Game of Thrones," 12 Apr. 2019 The meager edited footage turned the episode into a difficult-to-watch existential meditation on how awful the world can be even while people remain capable of bridge-building. Evan Kleiman, latimes.com, "He may have had a bad boy persona, but Anthony Bourdain was lovely, loyal and so damn smart," 9 June 2018 The songs deliver a series of poignant existential meditations. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Loma, a collaboration between Cross Record and Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, create a diverse array of moody settings," 3 May 2018 Artificial intelligence offers limitless potential for the financial industry, but at Fortune‘s MPW International Summit on Tuesday Mastercard vice chairman Ann Cairns also called attention to some of its existential risks. Beth Kowitt, Fortune, "Why Diversity in the Artificial Intelligence Sector Is Critical," 12 June 2018 Through this framing, the idea of choosing hope becomes both an existential act that affirms your humanity, and a form of resistance against cynical worldviews that dismiss hope as a powerful force for change. Aja Romano, Vox, "In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.," 27 Dec. 2018 In some sense Tesla’s union question is an existential one: is Tesla a tech company or a car company? Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "What Tesla’s union-busting trial means for the rest of Silicon Valley," 29 Sep. 2018 That existential tightness about me began to loosen even if the spandex did not. Matt Ortile, SELF, "Whenever My Life Feels Out of Control, I Go to Ballet Class," 16 Aug. 2018 Nightflyers is facing a similar existential crisis. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers asks whether humanity deserves to be saved," 29 Nov. 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

Statistics for existential

Last Updated

27 Apr 2019

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

More from Merriam-Webster on existential

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with existential

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for existential

Britannica English: Translation of existential for Arabic Speakers

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

one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!