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 Italian President Sergio Mattarella said his country’s falling birthrate posed an existential threat to the future of Italy. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Italian president: Falling birthrate threatens country's 'very existence'," 11 Feb. 2020 For factories in China that make lower-end goods such as furniture and cheap phones, the coronavirus is the latest in a series of existential threats. Fortune, "‘Panic situation:’ As coronavirus idles China’s factories, desperation grows for workers, clients and owners," 11 Feb. 2020 But climate change presents an existential threat for the long term, Esque said. Luke Runyon, azcentral, "Climate change is making life hard for desert tortoises in the Southwest," 9 Feb. 2020 Fanning fears National security has a special status in government policy – policymakers are given extra leeway on security issues in order to safeguard against existential threats. Charles Kurzman, The Conversation, "The 6 countries in Trump’s new travel ban pose little threat to US national security," 6 Feb. 2020 While some companies will manage to deflect scrutiny by supporting climate action, others will face existential threats from policymakers and investors. Alison Taylor, Quartz at Work, "2020 will be the year when corporate activism and global political risk converge," 5 Feb. 2020 The 9th Circuit recognizes that climate change is an existential threat … and agrees that the political branches have not done enough to address this problem in the past and are unlikely to do so in the future. Washington Post, "US court dismisses suit by youths over climate change," 17 Jan. 2020 All the candidates agree that climate change is an existential threat and pledge to immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord. Jessica T. Mathews, The New York Review of Books, "Do the Democrats Have a Foreign Policy?," 16 Jan. 2020 The islands, which, on average, are six and a half feet above sea level, now face another existential threat: rising seas, shifting weather patterns, and high temperatures associated with climate change. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "The Cost of Fleeing Climate Change," 10 Jan. 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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Statistics for existential

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Existential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/existential. Accessed 27 Feb. 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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