essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈe-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Definition of essence

1a : the permanent as contrasted with the accidental element of being
b : the individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence a painting that captures the essence of the land
c : the properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is
2 : the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person the essence of the issue
3 : one that possesses or exhibits a quality in abundance as if in concentrated form she was the essence of punctuality
4a(1) : a constituent or derivative possessing the special qualities (as of a plant or drug) in concentrated form also : a preparation of such an essence or a synthetic substitute
(2) : a volatile substance or constituent (as of perfume)
b : odor, perfume
5 : something that exists : entity
in essence
: in or by its very nature : essentially, basically was in essence an honest person
of the essence
: of the utmost importance time is of the essence

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Examples of essence in a Sentence

The perennial debate about nature and nurture—which is the more potent shaper of the human essence?—is perennially rekindled. — Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 In essence, the positivists were the first sociologists, rejecting both superstition and metaphysics and studying behavior as a natural phenomenon that could be perfected. — Stephan Talty, Mulatto America, 2003 I had come to Orange Cove on a statewide tour, looking for the essence of Latino life in a changing California and a good bowl of the Mexican stew … — Joe Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 20 May 2003 The essence of love is unselfishness. The book's illustrations capture the essence of the story.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In the book, LaPorte broke down life planning into five categories: livelihood and lifestyle; body and wellness; creativity and learning; relationships and society; essence and spirituality. Laura M. Holson, Town & Country, "Marianne Williamson's Disciples Are Everywhere," 2 July 2019 Water heated to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (about 93 degrees Celsius) and poured over the grounds will extract all of coffee’s most pleasurable essences in a matter of minutes. Bobby Finger, New York Times, "Is Cold Brew Better Than Iced Coffee?," 2 July 2019 The search for this essence occupied first philosophers and then psychologists, who formalized the philosophical ideas and translated them into concepts that could be tested. Giovanni Sabato, Scientific American, "What’s So Funny? The Science of Why We Laugh," 26 June 2019 There’s a tendency for some Americans to view the Muslim Brotherhood as a kind of negative essence of Islam, as if all of the flaws of the organization can be attributed to the faith that its followers espouse. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, "Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency," 19 June 2019 The toner is alcohol-free and really more like a lightweight moisturizer than a traditional toner or essence. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "I Used Only Kylie Skin Products For a Whole Week. Here's My Honest Review.," 29 May 2019 Next up, the vanilla milk toner is a gentle essence that goes on as your first skincare step after cleansing. Meagan Fredette, Teen Vogue, "Does KylieSkin Care Live Up To The Hype?," 22 May 2019 In an attempt to find out the true essence and importance of yoga, TIME spoke to traditional Indian teachers for the International Day of Yoga, which falls on June 21. Kamakshi Ayyar, Time, "What India's Traditional Yoga Teachers Want You to Know for the International Day of Yoga," 20 June 2018 The latter pair could suck out your blood, soul or breath, or extract the essence from food. Longreads, "Fairy Scapegoats: A History of the Persecution of Changeling Children," 9 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'essence.' 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 essence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for essence

Middle English essencia, from Latin essentia, from esse to be — more at is

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Statistics for essence

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for essence

The first known use of essence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for essence

essence

noun

English Language Learners Definition of essence

: the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is
: a substance that contains in very strong form the special qualities (such as the taste and smell) of the thing from which it is taken

essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈe-sᵊns How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Kids Definition of essence

1 : the basic part of something Freedom is the essence of democracy.
2 : a substance made from a plant or drug and having its special qualities

essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Medical Definition of essence

1 : a substance considered to possess in high degree the predominant qualities of a natural product (as a plant or drug) from which it is extracted (as by distillation or infusion)
b : an alcoholic solution especially of an essential oil essence of peppermint
c : an artificial preparation (as an alcoholic solution of one or more esters) used especially in flavoring
d : elixir

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essence

noun
es·​sence | \ ˈes-ᵊns How to pronounce essence (audio) \

Legal Definition of essence

1 : the real or ultimate nature of a thing : the properties that make a thing what it is his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreementUnited Steel Workers v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960) — see also essence test
2 : the predominant purpose of a thing the essence of the contract
of the essence
: of the utmost importance specifically : so material in nature that failure to satisfy its requirements constitutes a breach of contract time is of the essence

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Comments on essence

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