sem·​i·​nal ˈse-mə-nᵊl How to pronounce seminal (audio)
: of, relating to, or consisting of seed or semen
seminal discharge
: containing or contributing the seeds of later development : creative, original
a seminal book
seminally 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
Recent Examples on the Web Gamers are more than eager to see a return to the pedigree of Telltale’s seminal performance in the 2010s. WIRED, 16 Sep. 2023 Buffett had the great fortune of working at Graham’s investment firm, Graham-Newman Corp., in the mid ‘50s after being inspired by his seminal book on value investing, The Intelligent Investor, in 1949. Bywill Daniel, Fortune, 30 Aug. 2023 Jack Torrance, his family, and his descent into madness is a seminal work that has given oxygen to some of the most enduring conspiracy theories of our time. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Aug. 2023 Places like the Galapagos archipelago led Darwin to develop the theory of evolution by natural selection and inspired his seminal book On the Origin of Species. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 15 Aug. 2023 The seminal book on the choice not to have children is called Shallow, Selfish and Self-Absorbed, which echoes the criticism directed at childfree women. Clare Egan, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2023 This style was propelled into the mainstream by Marc Jacobs through his Perry Ellis spring-summer 1993 collection (which led to his dismissal from the role of creative director despite its being a seminal fashion moment). Alex Kessler, Glamour, 5 Sep. 2023 Song like the charging, clever title track fit nicely to the band’s seminal recordings. Matt Wake |, al, 31 Aug. 2023 As Chile prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the coup that forever changed its course — and that still stands as one of the seminal events in the continent’s history — officials there are eager to learn as much as possible about the back story of those events. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'seminal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near seminal

Cite this Entry

“Seminal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


sem·​i·​nal ˈsem-ən-ᵊl How to pronounce seminal (audio)
: of, relating to, or consisting of seed or semen
seminal discharge
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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