fundamental

adjective
fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈmen-tᵊl \

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)

fundamental

noun

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

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Other Words from fundamental

Adjective

fundamentally \ ˌfən-​də-​ˈmen-​tᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for fundamental

Adjective

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That volume is expected to increase in the coming years as online retailers increasingly treat the ability to return goods as a fundamental part of their pitch to customers. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Holiday Returns Already Are Flooding Parcel Networks," 20 Dec. 2018 The fundamental issue was how the original analysis dealt with the inevitable noise in the data. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "No more doubts: Two independent studies confirm LIGO’s Nobel discovery," 16 Dec. 2018 The business is a fundamental part of the creative process. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ads are just one piece of a bigger ‘reckoning’ in the fashion industry," 20 Sep. 2018 Specialized lenses could be shrunk down to better study the fundamental properties of light. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Honey, I Shrunk Everything: MIT Scientists Can Shrink Objects to the Nanoscale," 18 Dec. 2018 The fundamental themes of the play are absolutely universal. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Laura Donnelly's Family Secrets Became the Basis for the New Play The Ferryman," 12 Nov. 2018 As the first vote approaches, national party leaders, like former President Barack Obama and likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, should reaffirm the party’s commitment to fundamental democratic principles. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "New Jersey Democrats have a new gerrymandering plan. It is indefensible — and national Democrats need to stop it.," 14 Dec. 2018 The result is a timely and shattering theatrical experience that vividly suggests the fundamental human need to create home, community, and order out of chaos. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "In The Jungle, the Refugee Crisis Takes Center Stage," 13 Nov. 2018 Ahmadis believe another Islamic prophet, Ahmad, appeared in the 19th century, a view at odds with the fundamental Islamic principle that Muhammad was the final messenger sent by God. Fox News, "Pakistan's Ahmadis fearful as leaders bow to extremists," 28 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Republicans’ indifference to democracy allows Trump to behave in a wild and dangerous fashion; in turn, Republicans defend Trump and further weaken the fundamentals of the democratic system. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Republican Party versus democracy," 17 Dec. 2018 If Maersk can make its Pit Stop app and its digital platforms plan work on a consistent basis, the carrier could help reset some of the shipping industry’s economic fundamentals. Costas Paris, WSJ, "With Container Ships Getting Bigger, Maersk Focuses on Getting Faster," 20 Dec. 2018 Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Trump faces bipartisan criticism over press conference with Putin," 16 July 2018 The party will need quality candidates who run ahead of the national political fundamentals. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Democrats need some 2020 Senate candidates," 6 Dec. 2018 If history is any guide, Facebook will keep plowing ahead, Washington will keep slapping it around, and few of the fundamentals will change. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Facebook takes on new political heat after its internal problems are exposed," 15 Nov. 2018 The twelve eBooks in this bundle introduce you to both the fundamentals and more advanced elements of 3D printing methodologies, CAD design software, CNC routing, and more. Popular Mechanics Shop Team, Popular Mechanics, "Learn CAD and 3D Printing With This $20 Bundle," 28 Sep. 2018 Last week, just over a dozen Lyons Township students spent their days learning guitar fundamentals with Paul Meiste, the band director and a music teacher. Jesse Wright, chicagotribune.com, "A group of Lyons Township students attended guitar camp last week. Within days, they were playing along to Bob Dylan music.," 25 June 2018 Our region needed these fundamentals long before HQ2 was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and would need them whether or not Amazon existed. Alex Baca, Vox, "I work in urban planning. Now Amazon’s coming to my city.," 20 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of fundamental

Adjective

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

Noun

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fundamental

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

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fundamental

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

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More Definitions for fundamental

fundamental

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of fundamental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: forming or relating to the most important part of something

: of or relating to the basic structure or function of something

fundamental

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fundamental (Entry 2 of 2)

: one of the basic and important parts of something : a fundamental part

fundamental

adjective
fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈmen-tᵊl \

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

fundamental

noun

Kids Definition of fundamental (Entry 2 of 2)

: a basic part the fundamentals of arithmetic

fundamental

noun
fun·​da·​men·​tal | \ ˌfən-də-ˈment-ᵊl \

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

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