[ vahyt-l ]
/ ˈvaɪt l /


Origin of vital

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin vītālis, equivalent to vīt(a) life (derivative of vīvere to live; akin to Greek bíesthai, Sanskrit jīvati (he) lives, English quick) + -ālis -al1

Related forms

Definition for vital (2 of 2)


[ vahyt-lz ]
/ ˈvaɪt lz /

plural noun

those bodily organs that are essential to life, as the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and stomach.
the essential parts of something: the vitals of a democracy.

Origin of vitals

1600–10; translation of Latin vītālia; see vital Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vital

British Dictionary definitions for vital


/ (ˈvaɪtəl) /



  1. the bodily organs, such as the brain, liver, heart, lungs, etc, that are necessary to maintain life
  2. the organs of reproduction, esp the male genitals
(plural) the essential elements of anything

Derived Forms

vitally, adverb

Word Origin for vital

C14: via Old French from Latin vītālis belonging to life, from vīta life
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

Medicine definitions for vital (1 of 2)


[ vītl ]


Of, relating to, or characteristic of life.
Necessary to the continuation of life.
Used or done on a living cell or tissue, as in staining.
Destructive to life; fatal, as of an injury.

Medicine definitions for vital (2 of 2)


[ vītlz ]


The vital body organs.
The parts that are essential to continued functioning, as of a system.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.