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

Synonyms for essential

Words Related to essential

Near Antonyms for essential

Antonyms for essential

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

Synonyms for essential

Words Related to essential

Phrases Synonymous with essential

Near Antonyms for essential

Antonyms for essential



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

Synonyms for essential

Words Related to essential

Near Antonyms for essential

Antonyms for essential

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

Synonyms for essential

Words Related to essential

Near Antonyms for essential

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about essential

Time Traveler for essential

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for essential

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Essential.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on essential

Dictionary: Definition of essential

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with essential

Medical Dictionary: Definition of essential

Spanish Central: Translation of essential

Nglish: Translation of essential for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of essential for Arabic Speakers

Comments on essential

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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