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

Examples of essential in a Sentence

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Lady Whistledown is one of the most essential players in the series. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, 13 June 2024 Contributor Guest posting has become an essential tool for brand visibility and authority building in digital marketing. Jon Stojan, The Arizona Republic, 12 June 2024
Noun
In addition to her own personal experience, Jessie connected with other Disney adults and influencers to learn what their go-to theme park essentials are for a day of Disney magic. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 11 June 2024 The program, beginning in August, will help around 700 families annually access health services including doula and midwife care; educational resources for birthing and caregiving; essentials like diapers and wipes and car seats. Marina Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 11 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for essential 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'essential.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 22 Jun. 2024.

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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