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

Definition of seminal

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

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Other Words from seminal

seminally \ ˈse-​mə-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce seminally (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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Gutsy hard bop, an alliance of bebop and bluesy roots influences, was brewing in the seminal bands of Art Blakey and Horace Silver. Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press, "'Jazz from Detroit': Exclusive excerpt from new book about city's remarkable jazz legacy," 30 June 2019 The band included Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who later went on to be an integral member of the seminal post-hardcore bands The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Beto O’Rourke’s 2020 presidential campaign and policies, explained," 26 June 2019 Along the way, in the next half-century, the city provided some seminal moments that reverberated through the rest of the nation and moved the fight for equal rights closer to reality. Noelle Zielinski,, "Stonewall 50 years later: The riot that energized Cincinnati's gay community," 24 June 2019 And banjo legend Bela Fleck is bringing his seminal band the Flecktones to Oakland. Jackie Burrell, The Mercury News, "7 killer SF Bay Area things to do this weekend, June 7-9," 6 June 2019 Karen Uhlenbeck, whose seminal work helped launch an entire field of mathematics, was awarded the Abel Prize today in an announcement made from Oslo. Quanta Magazine, "Karen Uhlenbeck, Uniter of Geometry and Analysis, Wins Abel Prize," 19 Mar. 2019 At last season’s Eckhaus Latta show, Brian Chippendale, one half of seminal noise band Lightning Bolt, led a percussion pit made up of screaming children. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Meet the Producer Behind New York Fashion Week’s Coolest Soundtrack," 13 Feb. 2019 The Warriors dealt their No. 1 pick in 2014 (No. 23 overall), as well as a 2017 No. 1 pick and second-round picks in 2017 and ’18 in their seminal acquisition of Andre Iguodala in a sign-and-trade with the Nuggets. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, "Grading every Warriors draft pick in Joe Lacob Era," 20 June 2019 Russian psychologist Alfred Luk’yanovich Yarbus, who wrote the seminal volume on the topic, analyzed eye movements with the aid of suction cups attached to his subjects’ eyes in the 1950s and ‘60s. Anne Quito, Quartz, "Comcast’s new remote control feature allows viewers to change the channel with their eyes," 17 June 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for seminal

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for seminal

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on seminal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with seminal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for seminal

Nglish: Translation of seminal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of seminal for Arabic Speakers

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characterized by aphorism

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