Synonym Chooser

How is the word cardinal different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of cardinal are essential, fundamental, and vital. While all these words mean "so important as to be indispensable," cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends.

a cardinal rule in buying a home

Where would essential be a reasonable alternative to cardinal?

The meanings of essential and cardinal largely overlap; however, 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

When could fundamental be used to replace cardinal?

The words fundamental and cardinal are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse.

fundamental principles of algebra

When is vital a more appropriate choice than cardinal?

While in some cases nearly identical to cardinal, vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation.

cut off from vital supplies

Thesaurus Entries Near cardinal

Cite this Entry

“Cardinal.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on cardinal

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