non·​es·​sen·​tial | \ ˌnän-i-ˈsen(t)-shəl How to pronounce nonessential (audio) \

Definition of nonessential

1 : not essential
2 : being a substance synthesized by the body in sufficient quantity to satisfy dietary needs nonessential fatty acids — see also nonessential amino acid — compare essential sense 2b

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from nonessential

nonessential noun

Examples of nonessential in a Sentence

All nonessential personnel had to be laid off. Please avoid all nonessential uses of water.
Recent Examples on the Web The majority of nonessential surgeries and procedures in those facilities have been postponed, and officials are working to discharge patients to skilled nursing facilities, outpatient dialysis sites and other locations. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County issues most dire coronavirus warnings yet: Hospitals in crisis as death toll surges toward 10,000," 28 Dec. 2020 Hospitals in San Antonio could curtail nonessential surgeries and businesses must reduce their capacities as a wave of coronavirus infections continues to strain health care systems across the region. Lauren Caruba,, "San Antonio’s coronavirus positivity rate spikes to 19.2 percent as COVID-19 hospitalizations approach summer levels," 28 Dec. 2020 Festive gatherings with friends and family might be tempting after a year that has seen the pandemic take nearly 24,000 lives and ravage the economy as much of the state remained under a stay-at-home order that has closed nonessential businesses. Robert Jablon, ajc, "California deaths spur pleas to stay home for Christmas," 25 Dec. 2020 New Mexico has temporarily suspended all nonessential surgeries to alleviate the strain on the state’s hospitals. Eve Sneider, Wired, "The First Shots, Grim Milestones, and More Coronavirus News," 11 Dec. 2020 Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the state Department of Health issued a health order that limits nonessential surgeries at all hospital acute-care facilities. WSJ, "Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Death Toll Hits New Single-Day Record," 10 Dec. 2020 In addition to ordering crisis care, the Department of Health issued an order stopping nonessential surgeries in New Mexico hospitals from Friday until Jan 4. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "New Mexico hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 may soon ration care," 10 Dec. 2020 In part, the state imposed the shutdown, including a pause on all nonessential surgeries and procedures, to give hospitals time to build their muscle to handle the pandemic. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, "COVID-19: As cases rise sharply, area hospitals filling up and staffing issues emerging," 25 Nov. 2020 Anticipating a further surge in coronavirus patients, the Cleveland Clinic hospital system decided to postpone most nonessential surgeries requiring a hospital bed, according to an internal memo circulated Wednesday. Washington Post, "As coronavirus soars, hospitals hope to avoid an agonizing choice: Who gets care and who goes home," 12 Nov. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of nonessential

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nonessential

Time Traveler for nonessential

Time Traveler

The first known use of nonessential was in 1751

See more words from the same year

Statistics for nonessential

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nonessential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nonessential


How to pronounce nonessential (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nonessential

: not completely necessary : not essential


non·​es·​sen·​tial | \ ˌnän-i-ˈsen-shəl How to pronounce nonessential (audio) \

Kids Definition of nonessential

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not necessary We cut back on nonessential purchases.



Kids Definition of nonessential (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is not necessary There is no room for nonessentials.


non·​es·​sen·​tial | \ -i-ˈsen-chəl How to pronounce nonessential (audio) \

Medical Definition of nonessential

: being a substance synthesized by the body in sufficient quantity for normal health and growth a nonessential fatty acid — compare essential

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nonessential

What made you want to look up nonessential? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!