Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Constituting or being part of the essence of something; inherent.
  • adj. Basic or indispensable; necessary: essential ingredients. See Synonyms at indispensable.
  • adj. Medicine Of, relating to, or being a dysfunctional condition or a disease whose cause is unknown: essential hypertension.
  • adj. Biochemistry Being a substance that is required for normal functioning but cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore must be included in the diet: essential amino acids.
  • n. Something fundamental.
  • n. Something necessary or indispensable.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Necessary.
  • adj. Very important; of high importance.
  • adj. Being in the basic form; showing its essence.
  • adj. Such that each complementary region is irreducible, the boundary of each complementary region is incompressible by disks and monogons in the complementary region, and no leaf is a sphere or a torus bounding a solid torus in the manifold.
  • adj. Idiopathic.
  • n. A necessary ingredient.
  • n. A fundamental ingredient.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to the essence, or that which makes an object, or class of objects, what it is.
  • adj. Hence, really existing; existent.
  • adj. Important in the highest degree; indispensable to the attainment of an object; indispensably necessary.
  • adj. Containing the essence or characteristic portion of a substance, as of a plant; highly rectified; pure; hence, unmixed.
  • adj. Necessary; indispensable; -- said of those tones which constitute a chord, in distinction from ornamental or passing tones.
  • adj. Idiopathic; independent of other diseases.
  • n. Existence; being.
  • n. That which is essential; first or constituent principle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Involved in the essence, definition, or nature of a thing or of a word: as, an essential character; an essential quality.
  • Constituting or making that which is characteristic or most important in a thing; fundamental; indispensable: as, an essential feature of Shakspere's style.
  • Specifically, in medicine, idiopathic, not symptomatic merely.
  • Pertaining to or proceeding from an essence; of the nature of an essence or extract.
  • n. Existence; being.
  • n. A fundamental or constituent principle; a distinguishing characteristic.
  • In geology, noting those minerals of any species of rock which establish its character and which must be mentioned in its definition: contrasted with accessory.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. being or relating to or containing the essence of a plant etc
  • adj. of the greatest importance
  • adj. basic and fundamental
  • adj. absolutely necessary; vitally necessary
  • adj. defining rights and duties as opposed to giving the rules by which rights and duties are established
  • n. anything indispensable

Etymologies

From Late Latin essentialis, from Latin essentia ("being, essence"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • All the special interest mistresses are there - from Miss December the homemaker to Miss July, who gives a whole new meaning to the term essential oil.

    Republican party

  • Although in strictly speaking, the term essential oil is in reference to the aromatic value of the oils alone.

    Home Herbal Preparations: Essential Oil Extraction

  • Those groups, he said, require what they call "essential" patents to be licensed on a fair and reasonable basis—which weakens their potency because holders of such patents can't ask for injunctions that would stop use of their technology altogether.

    Google Primes Patent Pump

  • In one he'd questioned the word "essential" in "The Essential Kenny Loggins" greatest-hits album; in the other, he riffed that Bernard Madoff's lawyers were having a hard time unloading an apartment shaped like a pyramid.

    Earning a Living One Laugh at a Time

  • SEE Change, notes author Erik Assadourian, a Worldwatch Institute staff researcher, is a "celebration of sustainable growth, a term essential to a business model in which corporations depend radically on consistent quarterly rises in profits to keep shareholders from fleeing."

    Joel Makower: Next Steps for the Business Community

  • No program at all for what we call essential workers, the lesser skilled workers, workers that have less than a bachelor's degree.

    CNN Transcript Mar 23, 2007

  • S. O'BRIEN: You have what you call the essential energy booster.

    CNN Transcript Apr 11, 2006

  • It's a four - day weekend for all but what they call essential -- critically essential personnel, maybe national security people, emergency people.

    CNN Transcript Sep 18, 2003

  • D'Oliveira said affirmative action in the appointment of prosecutors, which he described as essential, was not judiciously applied.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • KELLY: OK, if an employee, the guts of the employee's job, what we call the essential work functions of someone's job requires them to get on an airplane to do their job and they won't do it, they can lose their job, not because the employer is a creep who says I don't really care that you're scared, but because what's the employer supposed to do?

    CNN Transcript Nov 23, 2001

Comments

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  • I found this word in a article, "The Recovery Act", by Troy Manning.

    September 30, 2010