vital

adjective

vi·​tal ˈvī-tᵊl How to pronounce vital (audio)
1
a
: of the utmost importance
a vital clue
vital resources
b
: fundamentally concerned with or affecting life or living beings: such as
(1)
: tending to renew or refresh the living : invigorating
(2)
: destructive to life : mortal
2
a
: concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life
vital organs
blood and other vital fluids
b
: existing as a manifestation of life
3
: full of life and vigor : animated
4
: characteristic of life or living beings
5
: recording data relating to lives
6
: of, relating to, or constituting the staining of living tissues
vitally adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for vital

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 vital in a Sentence

These matters are vital to national defense. The sciences are a vital part of the school curriculum. your heart, lungs, and other vital organs Exercise keeps her young and vital.
Recent Examples on the Web Not to be mistaken as a cushiony workplace perk, psychologically safe workplaces are vital for the bottom line—improving company culture, mitigating burnout, and retaining workers. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 21 Nov. 2023 Therefore, engagement and continuous communication between the educator, educational systems, and the parent is vital for a student's success. Marla Bautista, Parents, 20 Nov. 2023 But that transparency is vital for building trust, especially in an informed community that quickly sees through attempts to mask inaccessibility. WIRED, 17 Nov. 2023 That’s a tough but vital job for a manager, adapting to employee needs. Byeamon Barrett, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 The model has shaped decades of policy regarding whose literacy is considered vital and worthy of extra help and investment—and whose is not. Sarah Carr, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2023 Freeway closure and snarled traffic pose a fresh political test for Mayor Bass The closure of a vital piece of civic infrastructure presents a new, potentially thorny challenge for Mayor Karen Bass. Laurel Rosenhall, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Previous aid supplies to Gaza have not included fuel, which UNRWA and other aid agencies say is vital for hospitals, food supply and water salination plants, among other things. NBC News, 15 Nov. 2023 In a shutdown, only the most vital government services would function. Tony Romm, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin vitalis of life, from vita life; akin to Latin vivere to live — more at quick entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

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

Dictionary Entries Near vital

Cite this Entry

“Vital.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vital. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

vital

adjective
vi·​tal ˈvīt-ᵊl How to pronounce vital (audio)
1
: concerned with or necessary to the continuation of life
the heart and lungs are vital organs
2
: full of vitality : animated
3
: characteristic of life or of living things
vital activities
4
: destructive of life : fatal
a vital wound
5
: of first importance
a vital clue
vitally adverb
Etymology

Middle English vital "alive, full of life, relating to life," from Latin vitalis "of life," from vita "life"

Medical Definition

vital

adjective
vi·​tal ˈvīt-ᵊl How to pronounce vital (audio)
1
a
: existing as a manifestation of life
b
: concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life
vital organs
blood and other vital fluids
2
: characteristic of life or living beings
vital activities
3
: recording data relating to lives
vital records
4
: of, relating to, or constituting the staining of living tissues
vitally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vital

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