Definition of essential adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ɪˈsenʃl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɪˈsenʃl//
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  1. 1  completely necessary; extremely important in a particular situation or for a particular activity synonym vital an essential part/ingredient/component of something essential services such as gas, water and electricity The museum is closed while essential repairs are being carried out. Even in small companies, computers are an essential tool. The charity will be taking food and essential supplies to six refugee camps. This book is essential reading for all nature lovers. essential to something Money is not essential to happiness. essential for something Experience is essential for this job. it is essential to do something It is essential to keep the two groups separate. it is essential that… It is essential that you have some experience. Synonymsessentialvital crucial critical decisive indispensableThese words all describe somebody/​something that is extremely important and completely necessary because a particular situation or activity depends on them.essential extremely important and completely necessary, because without it something cannot exist, be made or be successful:Experience is essential for this job.vital essential:The police play a vital role in our society.essential or vital?These words have the same meaning but there can be a slight difference in tone. Essential is used to state a fact or opinion with authority. Vital is often used when there is some anxiety felt about something, or a need to persuade somebody that a fact or opinion is true, right or important. Vital is less often used in negative statements:It was vital to show that he was not afraid. Money is not vital to happiness.crucial extremely important because a particular situation or activity depends on it:It is crucial that we get this right.critical extremely important because a particular situation or activity depends on it:Your decision is critical to our future.crucial or critical?These words have the same meaning but there can be a slight difference in context. Critical is often used in technical matters of business or science; crucial is often used to talk about matters that may cause anxiety or other emotions.decisive of the greatest importance in affecting the final result of a particular situation:She has played a decisive role in the peace negotiations.indispensable essential; too important to be without:Cars have become an indispensable part of our lives.Patterns essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable for something essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​indispensable to something essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical that… essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical to do something a(n) essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable part/​factor of vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive importance absolutely essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable compare inessential, non-essential opposite dispensable Language BankemphasisHighlighting an important point This case emphasizes/highlights the importance of honest communication between managers and employees. Effective communication skills are essential/crucial/vital. It should be noted that this study considers only verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is not dealt with here. It is important to remember that/An important point to remember is that non-verbal communication plays a key role in getting your message across. Communication is not only about the words you use but also your body language and, especially/above all, the effectiveness with which you listen. I would like to draw attention to the role of listening in effective communication. Choose your words carefully: in particular, avoid confusing and ambiguous language. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you must learn to listen as well as to speak. Language BankvitalSaying that something is necessary It is vital that journalists can verify the accuracy of their reports. Journalists play a vital/crucial role in educating the public. Public trust is a crucial issue for all news organizations. The ability to write well is essential for any journalist. The Internet has become an indispensable tool for reporters. In journalism, accuracy is paramount/…is of paramount importance. It is imperative that journalists maintain the highest possible standards of reporting.
  2. 2  [only before noun] connected with the most important aspect or basic nature of somebody/something synonym fundamental The essential difference between Sara and me is in our attitude to money. The essential character of the town has been destroyed by the new road.
  3. Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘in the highest degree’): from late Latin essentialis, from Latin essentia, from esse ‘be’.Extra examples Although useful, the accessories are by no means essential. Diet is crucial; exercise is equally essential. Do you consider these textbooks essential for the course? He believed that some form of religion was essential to human life. Increased competition makes it essential for the business to innovate. It is becoming almost essential for students to have a second language. the skills essential for success It is essential that you have some experience. It is essential to keep the two groups separate. Listening to people’s concerns is an essential part of my job. The essential difference between Sara and me is our attitude to money. The local government is not able to provide essential services such as gas, water and electricity.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: essential