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 In its 72nd year of independence Israel is under no existential threat and enjoys an unrivaled military advantage and technological superiority. Gilead Sher, Time, "Netanyahu's Defense Treaty with Trump Is a Bad Idea. Just as Well It's Only a Gimmick," 16 Sep. 2019 The post-9/11 hysteria about the real but non-existential threat of jihadist terrorism has subsided as the threat of white nationalist terror at home has grown. Jefferson Morley, The New Republic, "Democrats Are Trapped in Trump’s “Deep State” War," 16 Sep. 2019 Sporting rock bottom fees and yielding often superior returns, these fund vehicles have become something of an existential threat to asset managers. Ben Carlson, Fortune, "Yes, Passive Investing Has Exploded. But Here’s Why Fears of a Bubble are Overblown," 14 Sep. 2019 Student shortages often pose an existential threat. Nick Anderson, Washington Post, "GWU aims to get smaller and better. Will that mean cuts to faculty and financial aid?," 13 Sep. 2019 The talk among industry insiders at the show, one of the auto industry’s biggest events, reflected the existential threats that carmakers face. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "The Concept Cars Gleam, but Executive Dread Clouds the Frankfurt Auto Show," 13 Sep. 2019 As more customers question the value that active managers claim to be able to add to investment strategies, the industry faces an existential crisis. Washington Post, "The Perils of Fund Underperformance," 18 Sep. 2019 South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has waxed about the need for generational change in leadership at a moment when the world needs to confront the existential crisis of climate change. Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, "Analysis: Why Julian Castro's attack on Joe Biden fell flat," 13 Sep. 2019 West of the Mississippi River, water rights—which are both divorced from climate change reality and based on illogically piecemeal legislation—have created an existential crisis. Max Holleran, The New Republic, "The Water Wars Are Here," 13 Sep. 2019

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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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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