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.

Nearby words

  1. essayist,
  2. essayistic,
  3. esse,
  4. esse quam videri,
  5. essen,
  6. essence d'orient,
  7. essence of bergamot,
  8. essene,
  9. essenes,
  10. essenian

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

Word Origin and History for of the essence

essence

n.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.