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

This speed is also vital for decontamination so that first responders can prevent further victims. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018 But here, the grandmother, losing sight of the present but often glimpsing her past, is always vital despite the ravages of time. Bob Blaisdell, The Christian Science Monitor, "'A Terrible Country' follows an ex-pat who returns to experience life in Russia," 11 July 2018 Today, one of the most vital questions facing the judiciary concerns the power of the federal government to safeguard African-Americans’ voting rights — which is to say, the foundational individual right of all liberal democracies. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Brett Kavanaugh’s Qualifications Don’t Matter," 10 July 2018 The dispute illustrates a growing issue: some of the places most sought after by recreationists are also culturally, spiritually, and/or economically vital to Native American tribes. Krista Langlois, Outside Online, "Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds," 5 July 2018 However, they will be housed in substandard conditions with limited access to health care, education and other vital services. San Antonio Express-News, "Indefinite detention — as immoral as family separation," 2 July 2018 The idea is that the US would set up review processes that don’t just safeguard technology that’s vital for the US to keep its military edge over rivals, but to also ensure the US keeps its economic edge over its rivals. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "Trump is about to escalate his trade war with China," 26 June 2018 All of them, of course, are trying to bring the most vital work to their stages. Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Magazine, "These Venues and Programmers Have Turned L.A. Into a World-Class Performing Arts Town," 13 June 2018 That was not surprising, given that the whole operation was overseen by an administration that holds government in contempt, seeing it as a source of obstruction or an opportunity for plunder, rather than a collection of vital services. Yvonne Abraham,, "After hurricane struck Puerto Rico, a second disaster was man-made," 2 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

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on vital

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