sem·​i·​nal | \ ˈse-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce seminal (audio) \

Definition of seminal

1 : of, relating to, or consisting of seed or semen seminal discharge
2 : containing or contributing the seeds of later development : creative, original a seminal book

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from seminal

seminally \ ˈse-​mə-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce seminal (audio) \ adverb

Examples of seminal in a Sentence

Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2000 for his seminal observation that it was in the action of the synapses between cells that memory existed, not in the cells themselves, and that a molecule called cyclic AMP was what allowed cells to retain memory over the long term. — Michael Greenberg, New York Review of Books, 4 Dec. 2008 Writer Susan Sontag died December 28 at age 71 after a long battle with cancer. She left behind an impressive body of fiction and criticism, including her seminal 1960s essays "Notes on Camp" and "Against Interpretation." — Allan Gurganus, Advocate, 1 Feb. 2005 I wonder if the curators who organized "Matisse Picasso" ever asked themselves why it was that Alfred H. Barr Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art and the guiding spirit behind the museum's seminal exhibitions of both Picasso and Matisse, never mounted a show like the one that has now arrived at MoMA QNS. Such an exhibition might seem to be logical, almost inevitable for the Museum of Modern Art. — Jed Perl, New Republic, 3 Mar. 2003
See More
Recent Examples on the Web This seminal work, among others, spawned a tradition of books addressing the topic of longevity which continues to this day. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, "‘Ageless’ Review: The Long Run," 26 Feb. 2021 Maybe the most explicit example of this is his seminal work Discipline and Punish. Teddy Mcdarrah, Forbes, "Don’t Let Your Job Stop You From Having A Career: Lessons From Russell And Foucault," 24 Feb. 2021 Some see the match as a seminal moment in sports history. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Jimmie McDaniel, Tennis Player Who Broke Barriers," 11 Feb. 2021 Describing the recent weeks' whirlwind as seminal events might not even do it justice. Star Tribune, "America's divide seen in a clash of symbols," 15 Jan. 2021 In seminal work published in 1969, Keith Moffatt, then a young Cambridge University lecturer, proved that the measure of the total knottedness and linkage in ideal fluids—ones, like liquid helium, that lack viscosity—stays constant over time. Natalie Wolchover, Scientific American, "Mysteries of Fluid Flow Unraveled by Knots," 11 Dec. 2013 Douglas published her seminal book, The Everglades: River of Grass, highlighting Florida's endlessly diverse subtropical wilderness and its need for ongoing preservation, in 1947. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, "Crowdsourcing Project Aims to Document the Many U.S. Places Where Women Have Made History," 30 Mar. 2020 The Computer History Museum has a vast computing collection and recently made more than 20 years’ worth of versions of the seminal programming language Smalltalk available online. Samuel Arbesman, Wired, "I Love Reading 1980s Computer Magazines, and So Should You," 26 Jan. 2021 Lil Wayne is one of the seminal figures in rap in the last two decades, selling more than 20 million albums in the U.S. since releasing his debut in 1999. oregonlive, "Who did Trump pardon? Rappers, dad in college bribery scheme, kingpin involved in officer’s murder," 20 Jan. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for seminal

Middle English, from Latin seminalis, from semin-, semen seed — more at semen

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about seminal

Time Traveler for seminal Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for seminal

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Seminal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for seminal



English Language Learners Definition of seminal

formal : having a strong influence on ideas, works, events, etc., that come later : very important and influential
medical : of or containing semen


sem·​i·​nal | \ ˈsem-ən-ᵊl How to pronounce seminal (audio) \

Medical Definition of seminal

: of, relating to, or consisting of seed or semen seminal discharge

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on seminal

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!