Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, relating to, containing, or conveying semen or seed.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or having the power to originate; creative.
  • adj. Highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development: a seminal idea in the creation of a new theory.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or relating to seed or semen.
  • adj. Creative or having the power to originate.
  • adj. Highly influential, especially in some original way, and providing a basis for future development or research.
  • n. A seed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to, containing, or consisting of, seed or semen.
  • adj. Contained in seed.
  • adj. Holding the first place in a series of developed results or consequents; serving as a source, or first principle; giving rise to related ideas or results; germinal; radical; primary; original
  • n. A seed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to seed or semen or the elements of reproduction.
  • 2. Containing the seed or elements of reproduction; germinal: as, seminal principles.
  • Rudimentary; original; primary.
  • n. A seed; a seminal or rudimentary element.

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

  • adj. containing seeds of later development
  • adj. pertaining to or containing or consisting of semen

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sēminālis, from sēmen, sēmin-, seed; see semen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin sēminālis. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The duct of the seminal vesicle joins the _vas deferens_ of the same side (both functionally and embryologically the seminal vesicle is no more than a diverticulum of the vas deferens); passing on under the name of the _common seminal_ or _ejaculatory duct_, the canal opens into the prostatic portion of the urethra (the orifices of the two common seminal ducts are in the folds of mucous membrane forming the right and left lateral margins of the _prostatic utricle_ or _uterus masculinus_).

    The Sexual Life of the Child

  • This two-disc compilation is also the first to cover both the Warner Brothers years and R.E.M.'s start on I.R.S. records, which produced the "Chronic Town" EP and "Murmur," works for which the word "seminal" should have been invented.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

  • Studios, and a move to Los Angeles in 1987 that landed him at Samuel Goldwyn, which he calls the seminal job of his career because it taught him about film distribution, marketing, and publicity.

    Boston.com Top Stories

  • She also referenced what she called a seminal study done at Sears a few years ago that found that engaged customer-service employees drive increased profits.

    CFO.com: Today in Finance

  • Ever since he called my seminal work Prefatory Remarks Towards a Prolegomena to Any Future Study of the Philosophy of Philosophy a “jejune and meretricious farrago composed of equal parts nonsense, self-contradiction, okra and cumin,” I'd had it in for the guy.

    OWS Boston: Members Only

  • Here 'spunky' is slang for 'covered in seminal fluid'.

    Princess Mahalanobis: Blog Baby, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Historically, Daumier makes the word seminal an understatement; his great-great-grandsons embellish our daily op-ed pages, and the Daumier estate still holds the patent on Jules Feiffer. '

    Even Mightier Than The Pen

  • Consider the magnitude of Mr. Brown's achievement: His capture of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat was based on an unambiguous promise to fight the march toward universal health care in the United States, which Kennedy himself described as the seminal cause of his life.

    American Thinker

  • Nasty nasty tunes that veered far too close to being a few notes away from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's seminal work 'The Phantom of the Opera' (I use the word seminal because, yes, it was a load of old wank).

    Glitter For Brains

  • RE describing Germaine's work as 'seminal' - don't you mean 'ovarian'?

    WBUR and NPR - On Point with Tom Ashbrook

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