sem·​i·​nal | \ˈse-mə-nᵊl \

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 \ 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

Identity, whether corporate or individual, real of bootleg, was a seminal Bernadette Corporation trope. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Notes from the Underground: With a New Book Out, Bernadette Van-Huy Tracks Her Evolution from Bernadette Corporation to Now," 5 Nov. 2018 News broke on Thursday, October 25, that a remake of the seminal nineties movie Clueless is currently in development. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "A Clueless Remake Is Officially in the Works—and People Have Thoughts," 26 Oct. 2018 Though it was written in 1868, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has become a seminal text for generations of women and girls. Sarah Nechamkin, The Cut, "Everything We Know About Greta Gerwig’s Little Women Adaptation," 5 July 2018 Many tea readers still consider this seminal text a fundamental resource. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Your Essential Guide to Tasseography, the Practice of Reading Tea Leaves," 7 May 2018 The book covers his time reporting on the 1972 Nixon/McGovern race and is considered a seminal text on American political journalism. Emily Heller, Vox, "The New York Times’s lead Clinton reporter recommends campaign reads for political junkies," 3 May 2018 In a seminal study from 2011, Mah got members of Stanford's men's basketball team to up their nightly sleep sessions by an average of 110 minutes. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "How Science Helps the Warriors Sleep Their Way to Success," 8 June 2018 Five years ago, a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, sponsored a seminal event for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men at Citi Field stadium in New York that drew tens of thousands of people. Elizabeth Llorente | Fox News, Fox News, "Hasidic leaders sharply limit members' web, smartphone use: 'It's like we're in North Korea’," 12 June 2018 On the first night of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, the then-19-year-old was wounded in his right arm and then was hospitalized for four months in Europe — a seminal event in his life, relatives said. Avalon R. Zoppo,, "Seymour I. Toll, 93, WWII vet who fought in Battle of the Bulge," 7 June 2018

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

12 Nov 2018

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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

: 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 \

Medical Definition of seminal 

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

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Comments on seminal

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a private place of worship

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