vi·​tal | \ ˈvī-tᵊl \

Definition of vital

1a : of the utmost importance a vital clue vital resources
b : fundamentally concerned with or affecting life or living beings: such as
(1) : tending to renew or refresh the living : invigorating
(2) : destructive to life : mortal
2a : concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life vital organs blood and other vital fluids
b : existing as a manifestation of life
3 : full of life and vigor : animated
4 : characteristic of life or living beings
5 : recording data relating to lives
6 : of, relating to, or constituting the staining of living tissues

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Other Words from vital

vitally \ ˈvī-​tᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for vital

essential, fundamental, vital, cardinal mean so important as to be indispensable. essential implies belonging to the very nature of a thing and therefore being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character. conflict is essential in drama fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse. fundamental principles of algebra vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation. cut off from vital supplies cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends. a cardinal rule in buying a home

Examples of vital in a Sentence

These matters are vital to national defense. The sciences are a vital part of the school curriculum. your heart, lungs, and other vital organs Exercise keeps her young and vital.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The issue of personal safety is seen as vital in view of the assassination of Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox during the Brexit referendum held in June, 2016. Lorne Cook, The Seattle Times, "UK Parliament moves to make ‘no-deal’ Brexit more difficult," 8 Jan. 2019 That moment only heled Larranaga further understand how vital Walker is to the Reading community. Jabari Young, San Antonio Express-News, "Off Topic: Getting to know Lonnie Walker through the eyes of Jim Larranaga," 23 June 2018 Jennifer Doudna, a biochemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the inventors of the gene-editing tool, said long-term monitoring of subjects is vital and failure to medically investigate deaths is unacceptable. Wenxin Fan, WSJ, "Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Loses Track of Patients, Alarming Technology’s Inventors," 28 Dec. 2018 The key players have hardware that will face off to win future markets, and those markets are more vital than space tourism. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Virgin Galactic Hype Totally Misses the Point," 13 Dec. 2018 As the dynamics of crashing coastal real estate values play out in local communities, state and federal support will become more vital. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Climate change and the coming coastal real estate crash," 16 Oct. 2018 The clear, odorless gas is also vital to the production and packaging of meat. Carson Kessler, Fortune, "A CO2 Shortage Is Threatening the Beer and Meat Supply in the U.K. During the World Cup," 21 June 2018 But although holding governments accountable is indeed vital, such thinking ignores a lot of potential impact. Meagan Neal, Vox, "It’s hard to design good policies. This simple idea can help governments do it.," 21 Dec. 2018 As climate change brings the prospect of rising sea levels, defending the country from water is vital to save its people and its cities. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Katy close to awarding Pine Forest construction contracts," 18 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for vital

Middle English, from Latin vitalis of life, from vita life; akin to Latin vivere to live — more at quick entry 1

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Statistics for vital

Last Updated

23 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for vital

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

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More Definitions for vital



English Language Learners Definition of vital

: extremely important

: needed by your body in order to keep living

: very lively or energetic


vi·​tal | \ ˈvī-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of vital

1 : concerned with or necessary to the continuation of life The heart and lungs are vital organs.
2 : full of life and energy At 80, he's still an active and vital man.
3 : very important a vital clue

Other Words from vital

vitally adverb These are vitally needed supplies.


vi·​tal | \ ˈvīt-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of vital

1a : existing as a manifestation of life
b : concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life vital organs blood and other vital fluids
2 : characteristic of life or living beings vital activities
3 : recording data relating to lives vital records
4 : of, relating to, or constituting the staining of living tissues

Other Words from vital

vitally \ -​ᵊl-​ē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on vital

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vital

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vital

Spanish Central: Translation of vital

Nglish: Translation of vital for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vital for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vital

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


a complex dispute or argument

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