Thesaurus

essential

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of essential

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 of or relating to the simplest facts or theories of a subject
  • anyone with an essential knowledge of human biology can follow the documentary

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3 being a part of the innermost nature of a person or thing
  • an unquenchable belief in the essential goodness of most people

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essential

noun

Synonyms & Antonyms of essential (Entry 2 of 2)

1 something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable
  • the essentials for success include a willingness to work and the right attitude

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2 essentials plural general or basic truths on which other truths or theories can be based
  • this will be just an introduction to the essentials of computer programming

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About essential

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

Some common synonyms of essential are cardinal, fundamental, and vital. While all these words 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

When could cardinal be used to replace essential?

While in some cases nearly identical to essential, cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends.

a cardinal rule in buying a home

When is fundamental a more appropriate choice than essential?

While the synonyms fundamental and essential are close in meaning, fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse.

fundamental principles of algebra

When would vital be a good substitute for essential?

The words vital and essential are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation.

cut off from vital supplies

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Time Traveler for essential

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Essential.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/essential. Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on essential

Dictionary: Definition of essential

Medical Dictionary: Definition of essential

Nglish: Translation of essential for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of essential for Arabic Speakers

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