fundamental

1 of 2

adjective

fun·​da·​men·​tal ˌfən-də-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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)

fundamental

2 of 2

noun

1
: something fundamental
especially : one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is
2
a
: 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
But there’s a fundamental difference between the two. Bhopi Dhall and Saurajit Kanungo, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 Openness is also fundamental to Bottura and Co’s no-waste sustainability philosophy that manifests at Al Gatto Verde not just on the plate but in the space. Erica Firpo, Travel + Leisure, 11 Feb. 2024 Related article Volkswagen is losing the electric car race to Tesla and China Slowing economic growth in China, until recently Germany’s second-biggest export market, has crimped demand for goods, and fundamental shifts in the Chinese economy mean that demand may not return. Hanna Ziady, CNN, 10 Feb. 2024 The zodiac also alternates between the five fundamental elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Catherine Duncan, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Feb. 2024 The following fundamental questions can help establish the feasibility of these paths: What is the quality of the company’s revenue? Raphaelle D’ornano, Fortune, 7 Feb. 2024 While the interoperability of encrypted messaging apps may be possible, there are some fundamental challenges about how the systems will work in the real world. Matt Burgess, WIRED, 6 Feb. 2024 Each one is sitting with the human, the animal, the ghost, and offering all three a rigorous, fundamental kind of love. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 3 Feb. 2024 One of those things should be a greater offensive role for Austin Reaves, whom the Lakers have identified as fundamental to their future. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024
Noun
Brown Dark Red Light Red Light Purple Gray Teal General Hero Updates Developer Comments: Season 9 features changes to the fundamentals of Overwatch 2 gameplay that affect every hero. Kris Holt, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 Still, bulls can easily point to fundamentals to justify the advance, including a bullish forecast from Arm Holdings Plc, which soared a record 48% on Thursday. Ryan Vlastelica, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 To take off in a sports setting, plenty of factors must align — not just the fundamentals of what makes a song appealing to the masses, but also hard work behind the scenes and a little luck. Dan Rys, Billboard, 9 Feb. 2024 In 1957, the men’s basketball program at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University in Nashville had all of the makings of a great team: a coach dedicated to the fundamentals of the game and a fast-breaking offense that applied relentless full-court pressure. Remy Tumin, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2024 The mission is to teach the principles, fundamentals and basic skills of the game. Miami Herald, 31 Jan. 2024 That’s why the Ravens spent a lot of time going over fundamentals at Wednesday’s practice. Mike Preston, Baltimore Sun, 12 Jan. 2024 What Will & Harper is, at its heart, is a portrait of a friendship and how the fundamentals of a deep and lasting bond doesn’t change even when the people within it do. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 23 Jan. 2024 The result is that Garvey’s candidacy creates froth but does not alter the fundamentals. Jim Newton, The Mercury News, 21 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fundamental.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

Noun

derivative of fundamental entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Noun

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near fundamental

Cite this Entry

“Fundamental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamental. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

fundamental

1 of 2 adjective
fun·​da·​men·​tal ˌfən-də-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio)
1
: being or forming a foundation : basic, essential
a discovery fundamental to modern science
our fundamental rights
2
: of or relating to essential structure or function : radical
fundamental change
3
: of, relating to, or produced by the lowest part of a complex vibration
4
: of central importance : principal
fundamental purpose
fundamentally adverb

fundamental

2 of 2 noun
1
: something fundamental : a basic part
fundamentals of arithmetic
2
: the part of a complex wave that has the lowest frequency and commonly the greatest amplitude
Etymology

Adjective

Middle English fundamental "serving as a base or source of support," from Latin fundamentalis "of a foundation," from fundamentum "foundation," derived from fundus "bottom, base" — related to found entry 2, fund

Medical Definition

fundamental

noun
fun·​da·​men·​tal ˌfən-də-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce fundamental (audio)
: the principal musical tone produced by vibration (as of a string or column of air) on which a series of higher overtones is based

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