quintessence

noun quin·tes·sence \ kwin-ˈte-sᵊn(t)s \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of quintessence

1 : the fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies
2 : the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form
3 : the most typical example or representative
  • the quintessence of calm

quintessential

play \ˌkwin-tə-ˈsen(t)-shəl\ adjective or noun

quintessentially

adverb

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Examples of quintessence in a Sentence

  1. the Parthenon in Greece was considered the quintessence of the perfectly proportioned building

  2. a selfless desire to help others is the quintessence of the virtue of charity

Recent Examples of quintessence from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Long ago, when people believed that the earth was made up of four elements-earth, air, fire, and water-they thought the stars and planets were made up of yet another element. In the Middle Ages, people called this element by its Medieval Latin name, quinta essentia, literally, "fifth essence." Our forebears believed the quinta essentia was essential to all kinds of matter, and if they could somehow isolate it, it would cure all disease. We have since given up on that idea, but we kept "quintessence," the offspring of "quinta essentia," as a word for the purest essence of a thing. Some modern physicists have given "quintessence" a new twist-they use it for a form of so-called "dark energy," which is believed to make up 70 percent of the universe.

Origin and Etymology of quintessence

Middle English, from Middle French quinte essence, from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, literally, fifth essence




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