- the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features: Freedom is the very essence of our democracy.
- a substance obtained from a plant, drug, or the like, by distillation, infusion, etc., and containing its characteristic properties in concentrated form.
- an alcoholic solution of an essential oil; spirit.
- a perfume; scent.
- Philosophy. the inward nature, true substance, or constitution of anything, as opposed to what is accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc.
- something that exists, especially a spiritual or immaterial entity.
- in essence, essentially; at bottom, often despite appearances: For all his bluster, he is in essence a shy person.
- of the essence, absolutely essential; critical; crucial: In chess, cool nerves are of the essence.
Origin of essence
SynonymsSee more synonyms for essence on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for essence
They are both viewed in essence like eating Brussels sprouts.The Devil in Mike Huckabee
January 6, 2015
Humans spent a long time domesticating cattle, and what they were trying to do, in essence, was de-domesticate them.‘Nazi Cows’ Tried to Kill British Farmer
January 6, 2015
The essence of what Whitney is to me is a beautiful woman, not a beautiful black woman.Inside the Lifetime Whitney Houston Movie’s Lesbian Lover Storyline
December 16, 2014
They are now in essence a sisterhood joined together by a vile incident.Here’s What She’d Tell Bill Cosby Today
December 9, 2014
The essence of nearly every Disney film is that women need saving, preferably by a man from a superior social and economic class.Sexism Begins in the Toy Aisle
November 29, 2014
Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
The essence of freedom is that each of us shares in the shaping of his own destiny.
The essence of the continental system is its gigantic scale.The Story of the Malakand Field Force
Sir Winston S. Churchill
Then, perhaps, says another, the essence of a bull lies in confusion of ideas.Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
Then take out the jar and strain the essence of the beef into a bowl.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
- the characteristic or intrinsic feature of a thing, which determines its identity; fundamental nature
- the most distinctive element of a thingthe essence of a problem
- a perfect or complete form of something, esp a person who typifies an abstract qualityhe was the essence of gentility
- the unchanging and unchangeable nature of something which is necessary to its being the thing it is; its necessary propertiesCompare accident (def. 4)
- the properties in virtue of which something is called by its name
- the nature of something as distinct from, and logically prior to, its existence
- theol an immaterial or spiritual entity
- the constituent of a plant, usually an oil, alkaloid, or glycoside, that determines its chemical or pharmacological properties
- an alcoholic solution of such a substance
- a substance, usually a liquid, containing the properties of a plant or foodstuff in concentrated formvanilla essence
- a rare word for perfume
- in essence essentially; fundamentally
- of the essence indispensable; vitally important
Word Origin and History for essence
late 14c., essencia (respelled late 15c. on French model), from Latin essentia "being, essence," abstract noun formed (in imitation of Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present participle stem of esse "to be," from PIE *es- (cf. Sanskrit asmi, Hittite eimi, Old Church Slavonic jesmi, Lithuanian esmi, Gothic imi, Old English eom "I am;" see be). Originally "substance of the Trinity," the general sense of "basic element of anything" is first recorded in English 1650s, though this is the base meaning of the first English use of essential.