fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio) \

Definition of fundamental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function : basic Responsibility is fundamental to democracy. The Constitution ensures our fundamental rights.
b : serving as an original or generating source : primary a discovery fundamental to modern computers
2a : of or relating to essential structure, function, or facts : radical fundamental change also : of or dealing with general principles rather than practical application fundamental science
b : adhering to fundamentalism a preacher who is evangelical, Bible-teaching, and fundamental
3 : of central importance : principal fundamental purpose such fundamental events as birth, marriage, and death
4 : belonging to one's innate or ingrained characteristics : deep-rooted her fundamental good humor
5 : of, relating to, or produced by the lowest component of a complex vibration (see vibration sense 1)



Definition of fundamental (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something fundamental especially : one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is
2a : the principal musical tone produced by vibration (as of a string or column of air) on which a series of higher harmonics is based
b : the root of a chord
3 : the harmonic component of a complex wave that has the lowest frequency and commonly the greatest amplitude

Choose the Right Synonym for fundamental


essential, fundamental, vital, cardinal mean so important as to be indispensable. essential implies belonging to the very nature of a thing and therefore being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character. conflict is essential in drama fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse. fundamental principles of algebra vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation. cut off from vital supplies cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends. a cardinal rule in buying a home

Examples of fundamental in a Sentence

Adjective The Constitution ensures our fundamental rights. There's a fundamental difference between these two political parties. These ideas are of fundamental importance. The revolution brought about a fundamental change in the country. We need to make some fundamental changes in the way we do business. We need to address these problems on a more fundamental level. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Many factors contributed to this, but the fundamental problem is that the evolution of the drug market outpaced efforts to stop drug overdoses. Time, 19 Sep. 2022 In actuality, though, the research has indicated that the mutations were evidence of a years-long fight with human immune systems, not signs of a fundamental change in the virus. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 1 Sep. 2022 The belief that communism was reformable was what led him to risk introducing fundamental change. David Satter, WSJ, 31 Aug. 2022 But the more fundamental problem is weak domestic consumer demand and businesses reluctant to invest and hire. Mary Hui, Quartz, 24 Aug. 2022 Critics say such services don’t solve the fundamental problem of a shortage of therapists. Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune, 21 Aug. 2022 For about 100 years, shock- absorber designers have been juggling compression and rebound damping ratios and developing complex shock valving to try to overcome this fundamental problem. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, 18 Aug. 2022 But there is a fundamental change in the nature of business. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 17 Aug. 2022 These are certainly possibilities, but all will have to contend with a fundamental problem. Margo Oge, Forbes, 11 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While the technology may be new to some organizations, hiring the right people and assembling great teams is a business fundamental that has stood the test of time. Daphne Kis, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 One fundamental that makes coaching successful is the nature of the relationship between the two people involved. Jack Zenger, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 The short-yardage problems were more muscle-mass fundamental. Dave Hyde,, 6 Nov. 2021 Together, the advances span the fundamental to the applied. Chad Mirkin, Scientific American, 9 Oct. 2021 The program teaches students the fundamental of electricity as well as the math and sciences needed to work on power lines. Leada Gore |, al, 6 Apr. 2021 This has always been a timeless fundamental of marketing, but so much more evident now. Sarah Hofstetter, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2021 Called Fleming's Left Hand Rule, this fundamental of electromagnetism states that the confluence of a magnetic field and an electric current passing through a fluid will cause the fluid to be propelled in one direction. Abe Dane, Popular Mechanics, 14 Jan. 2021 For a company of its size, that kind of a move is less a reflection of business fundamentals,... Laura Forman, WSJ, 26 May 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fundamental.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fundamental


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fundamental


Middle English, borrowed from Late Latin fundāmentālis "serving as a foundation," from Latin fundāmentum "foundation, basis" + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at fundament


derivative of fundamental entry 1

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Time Traveler for fundamental

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The first known use of fundamental was in the 15th century

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fundamental bass

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Last Updated

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fundamental.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for fundamental


fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio) \

Kids Definition of fundamental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: being or forming a foundation : basic, essential The discovery was fundamental to science. our fundamental rights

Other Words from fundamental

fundamentally adverb



Kids Definition of fundamental (Entry 2 of 2)

: a basic part the fundamentals of arithmetic


fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio) \

Medical Definition of fundamental

: the principal musical tone produced by vibration (as of a string or column of air) on which a series of higher overtones is based

More from Merriam-Webster on fundamental

Nglish: Translation of fundamental for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fundamental for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fundamental


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