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Synonym Chooser

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

Some common synonyms of fundamental are cardinal, essential, and vital. While all these words mean "so important as to be indispensable," fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse.

fundamental principles of algebra

When might cardinal be a better fit than fundamental?

The words cardinal and fundamental can be used in similar contexts, but cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends.

a cardinal rule in buying a home

When would essential be a good substitute for fundamental?

Although the words essential and fundamental have much in common, 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 vital be used to replace fundamental?

The words vital and fundamental 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

Thesaurus Entries Near fundamental

Cite this Entry

“Fundamental.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

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