[ kwin-tes-uhns ]
See synonyms for quintessence on Thesaurus.com
  1. the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.

  2. the most perfect embodiment of something.

  1. (in ancient and medieval philosophy) the fifth essence or element, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth, and water.

Origin of quintessence

1400–50; Middle English <Medieval Latin quīnta essentia fifth essence

Other words from quintessence

  • quin·tes·sen·tial [kwin-tuh-sen-shuhl], /ˌkwɪn təˈsɛn ʃəl/, adjective

Words Nearby quintessence

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use quintessence in a sentence

  • Preserve this precious quintessence of mercury, which is exceedingly volatile, in a well-closed vessel for further use.

    Witch, Warlock, and Magician | William Henry Davenport Adams
  • This drama is the quintessence of all that Gorky has, up to this time, written on the "ex-man," whom he has thoroughly "explored."

  • Only as a subscriber, possessing a numbered set of a limited edition, could one obtain the quintessence of literature.

    Bizarre | Lawton Mackall
  • They are the quaint quintessence of conservatism, and will occupy youthful minds menaced by modernism.

    Bizarre | Lawton Mackall
  • Ten beds, and only one occupied, by a freckled, tousled quintessence of fractiousness in a blue wrapper.

    Pippin; A Wandering Flame | Laura E. Richards

British Dictionary definitions for quintessence


/ (kwɪnˈtɛsəns) /

  1. the most typical representation of a quality, state, etc

  2. an extract of a substance containing its principle in its most concentrated form

  1. (in ancient and medieval philosophy) ether, the fifth and highest essence or element after earth, water, air, and fire, which was thought to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies and latent in all things

Origin of quintessence

C15: via French from Medieval Latin quinta essentia the fifth essence, translation of Greek pemptē ousia

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012