essential

1 of 2

adjective

es·​sen·​tial i-ˈsen(t)-shəl How to pronounce essential (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or constituting essence : inherent
2
a
: of the utmost importance : basic, indispensable, necessary
an essential requirement for admission to college
b
: being a substance that is not synthesized by the body in a quantity sufficient for normal health and growth and that must be obtained from the diet
a vegetable oil rich in essential fatty acids
see also essential amino acid compare nonessential sense 2
3
: idiopathic
essential disease
essential hypertension
essentialness noun

essential

2 of 2

noun

1
: something basic
the essentials of astronomy
2
: something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable
Choose the Right Synonym for essential

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

Example Sentences

Adjective As a fighter pilot, he knows that good vision is essential. Free speech is an essential right of citizenship. The essential problem with this plan is that it will cost too much. There's no essential difference between the two products. Noun the essentials for success include a willingness to work and the right attitude this will be just an introduction to the essentials of computer programming See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Finding a way to de-stress and calm your mind is essential. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 17 Nov. 2022 For some business owners who have felt the impacts of inflation, this holiday season could be essential in keeping their businesses afloat. Analisa Novak, CBS News, 17 Nov. 2022 The role of the Senate in the new Congress will be essential regardless of which party controls that chamber. Charlie Dent, CNN, 17 Nov. 2022 Autopsies are also essential to help law enforcement sort natural deaths from homicides. Time, 16 Nov. 2022 Having the right airplane, crewed by the right people, and having the right maintenance support at the right gate is essential. John Cox, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2022 Camilla Fenning, international climate finance expert at the think tank E3G, says designing these deals so that public money unlocks much larger amounts of private investment is essential. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 14 Nov. 2022 Global diversification is essential right now, said Mary McDowell, chair of the board at Mitel, Autodesk, and the U.K.-based ed-tech firm Informa. Lila Maclellan, Fortune, 11 Nov. 2022 Think of the change like this: In the social-networking era, the connections were essential, driving both content creation and consumption. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 10 Nov. 2022
Noun
Designed to strengthen the lower body—particularly targeting the inner thighs, abs, glutes, and pelvic floor muscles—this fitness essential is a must-have for any equipment collection. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 10 Nov. 2022 Olive oil is an essential for any home chef, so why not give them a sampler of different infusions? Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 13 Oct. 2022 Best of all, this versatile essential is flattering and comfortable, and comes in standard, petite, and plus size offerings, so no one is left behind. Jennifer Chan, Peoplemag, 23 Aug. 2022 Credited with being lightweight and long-lasting, Fenty's lip luminizer is an essential for your beauty product-loving cousin. Annie O’sullivan, Good Housekeeping, 30 Sep. 2022 These Ray-Ban Stories glasses are an essential for capturing videos and photos at shows or events without having to constantly pull out my phone. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 Sep. 2022 Amazon Prime has become an essential for most households, however, Amazon Prime Student comes with its own unique benefits for students, including a cheaper membership fee. al, 8 Sep. 2022 Cropped, tied, plain, or in mesh, the tank is an essential. José Criales-unzueta, Vogue, 28 June 2022 This recipe is an essential for your summer cooking repertoire. Anna Luisa Rodriguez, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'essential.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near essential

Cite this Entry

“Essential.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essential. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

essential 1 of 2

adjective

es·​sen·​tial i-ˈsen-chəl How to pronounce essential (audio)
1
: forming or belonging to the essence
free speech is an essential right of citizenship
2
: containing or having the character of an easily evaporated essence
essential oils
3
: important in the highest degree : necessary
food is essential to life
essentiality
-ˌsen-chē-ˈal-ət-ē
noun
essentially adverb
essentialness noun

essential

2 of 2

noun

: something basic, necessary, or indispensable
the essentials for success

Medical Definition

essential

adjective

es·​sen·​tial i-ˈsen-chəl How to pronounce essential (audio)
1
: being, relating to, or containing an essence
an essential odor
2
: being a substance that is not synthesized by the body in a quantity sufficient for normal health and growth and that must be obtained from the diet
The body converts linoleic acid—an essential fatty acid that makes up 60 percent of corn oil—into arachidonic acid. Janet Raloff, Science News
see essential amino acid compare nonessential
3
: having no obvious or known cause : idiopathic
essential disease

More from Merriam-Webster on essential

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