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  1. of or relating to life: vital processes.
  2. having remarkable energy, liveliness, or force of personality: a vital leader.
  3. being the seat or source of life: the vital organs.
  4. necessary to life: vital fluids.
  5. necessary to the existence, continuance, or well-being of something; indispensable; essential: vital for a healthy society.
  6. affecting the existence, well-being, truth, etc., of something: a vital error.
  7. of critical importance: vital decisions.
  8. destructive to life; deadly: a vital wound.

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 formsvi·tal·ly, adverbvi·tal·ness, nounnon·vi·tal, adjectivenon·vi·tal·ly, adverbnon·vi·tal·ness, nounqua·si-vi·tal, adjectivequa·si-vi·tal·ly, adverbsu·per·vi·tal, adjectivesu·per·vi·tal·ly, adverbsu·per·vi·tal·ness, nounun·vi·tal, adjectiveun·vi·tal·ly, adverbun·vi·tal·ness, noun

Synonyms for vital

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of vitally

British Dictionary definitions for vitally


  1. essential to maintain lifethe lungs perform a vital function
  2. forceful, energetic, or livelya vital person
  3. of, relating to, having, or displaying lifea vital organism
  4. indispensable or essentialbooks vital to this study
  5. of great importance; decisivea vital game
  6. archaic influencing the course of life, esp negativelya vital treachery
  1. (plural)
    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
  2. (plural) the essential elements of anything
Derived Formsvitally, 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

Word Origin and History for vitally



late 14c., "of or manifesting life," from Latin vitalis "of or belonging to life," from vita "life," related to vivere "to live," from PIE root *gwei- (cf. Old Persian *jivaka- "alive;" Greek bios "life," zoon "animal;" Lithuanian gyvata "(eternal) life;" Old English cwic, cwicu "living, alive;" Old Irish bethu "life;" cf. also bio-). The sense of "necessary or important" is from 1610s, via the notion of "essential to life" (late 15c.). Vital capacity recorded from 1852.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vitally in Medicine


  1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of life.
  2. Necessary to the continuation of life.
  3. Used or done on a living cell or tissue, as in staining.
  4. Destructive to life; fatal, as of an injury.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.