essence

[ es-uhns ]
/ ˈɛs əns /

noun

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.

Idioms

    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

1350–1400; Middle English essencia < Medieval Latin, for Latin essentia. See esse, -ence
Related formsself-es·sence, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for of the essence

essence

/ (ˈɛsəns) /

noun


Word Origin for essence

C14: from Medieval Latin essentia, from Latin: the being (of something), from esse to be
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

Idioms and Phrases with of the essence

of the essence

Of the greatest importance, crucial, as in Time is of the essence. This idiom, which uses essence in the sense of “the most important element of something,” was first recorded in 1873, although the phrase the essence of ... was already being used in the mid-1600s.


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.