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

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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 And these new pressures are arriving at newspapers after a decade's worth of existential threats due to plunging readership, competition from new media platforms, the challenge of reinventing themselves online, massive job cuts, and more. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit newspapers feel economic pressures of coronavirus at time they're needed most," 25 Mar. 2020 In the event of war, these vessels would be set loose on British shipping lanes, posing an existential threat to an Empire held together by seaborne trade. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, "How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles," 25 Mar. 2020 But the fact is that government is the one forcing the economy to shut down in an effort to save lives due to an existential threat that no one could be prepared for properly. David Harsanyi, National Review, "It’s Perfectly Fine for Congressional Coronavirus Relief to Benefit Businesses," 23 Mar. 2020 But the president has also resisted portraying the virus as an existential threat in a way that the public health experts have. David E. Sanger, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump says coronavirus cure cannot ‘be worse than the problem itself’," 23 Mar. 2020 But neither strikes me as an existential threat to our way of life, let alone our literal existence. Damon Linker, TheWeek, "Confessions of a coronavirus skeptic," 23 Mar. 2020 To me, that is more of an existential threat to (new ethane plants) than the basic economics of the oil price dropping. James Bruggers, The Courier-Journal, "Market headwinds buffet Appalachia’s future as a center for petrochemicals," 21 Mar. 2020 With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, one question in particular has emerged as front and center: Is a society founded on liberal principles able to preserve itself when confronted with an existential threat, such as the coronavirus pandemic? Christopher Beem, The Conversation, "Coronavirus reminds Americans that pursuit of happiness is tied to the collective good," 18 Mar. 2020 But then came the , an invisible enemy that’sstrengthened by precisely the kind of communal solidarity that has defeated the existential threats of the past. Washington Post, "Paris without cafes: In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, an eerie quiet," 15 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for existential

Time Traveler

The first known use of existential was in 1656

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Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Existential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/existential. Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on existential

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for existential

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with existential

Britannica English: Translation of existential for Arabic Speakers

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