vital

adjective vi·tal \ ˈvī-tᵊl \
Updated on: 22 Nov 2017

Definition of vital

1 a : 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
2 a : 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

vitally

play \ˈvī-tᵊl-ē\ adverb

Examples of vital in a Sentence

  1. These matters are vital to national defense.

  2. The sciences are a vital part of the school curriculum.

  3. your heart, lungs, and other vital organs

  4. Exercise keeps her young and vital.

Recent Examples of vital from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of vital

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

VITAL Defined for English Language Learners

vital

adjective

Definition of vital for English Language Learners

  • : extremely important

  • : needed by your body in order to keep living

  • : very lively or energetic


VITAL Defined for Kids

vital

adjective vi·tal \ ˈvī-tᵊl \

Definition of vital for Students

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

vitally

adverb
  • These are vitally needed supplies.

Medical Dictionary

vital

adjective vi·tal \ ˈvīt-ᵊl \

medical Definition of vital

1 a : 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

vitally

play \-ᵊl-ē\ adverb


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

sticky or viscid

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!