Definition of elemental in English:



  • 1Forming an essential or typical feature; fundamental.

    ‘failure is always apparent at this elemental level’
    • ‘Slate magazine does not seem to use fact-checkers, but these elemental facts easily can be found in any encyclopedia of American history, or by a ten-second’
    • ‘At the most basic level, they shared elemental similarities - they faced the street, they had windows in rows, etc.’
    • ‘To these most elemental facts, add human beings.’
    • ‘He did not conflate signs with reality at an elemental level, and his alphabet does not connect to reality so much as provide an analogy for real-world relations.’
    • ‘In the portrait, Picasso has broken his subject into angular elemental forms and then reassembled them from various perspectives, like a shattered mirror.’
    • ‘But he objected to something more elemental, and less subject to rehabilitation, than the doctor's impolitic opinion about the caucuses.’
    • ‘While her works have consistently pointed to a delightful connection between ourselves and our things, here she seemed to explore that connection down to an elemental level.’
    • ‘It is an elemental way of knowing who we are on all levels - heart, body and mind.’
    • ‘However, these elemental components of behavior can only be understood in the natural context of the animal.’
    • ‘Can someone please explain to me how the most elemental political issues can be derived from this overhyped melange of the obvious and the psychotic?’
    • ‘You also have to know your topic well enough to discuss it at the elemental concept level.’
    • ‘At its elemental level, in the construction industry the temp agencies have essentially created alternative ‘non - union’ hiring halls.’
    • ‘They are baggage in its most elemental form, moving from apartment to apartment with me, serving no function whatsoever but to clutter.’
    • ‘As this latest battle tears through yet another week, old fears are brought back to life, resurrecting the historical arguments about who has what elemental rights in historic Palestine.’
    • ‘Mr Quin said: ‘The elemental costs were deliberately assessed on the basis of a worst case scenario in each instance.’’
    basic, primary, principal, fundamental, essential, elementary, radical, root, underlying
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    1. 1.1Concerned with chemical elements or other basic components.
      ‘elemental analysis’
      • ‘To encompass all oxidation-reduction reactions, it is necessary to determine the gain and loss of electrons for covalent as well as ionic and elemental species.’
      • ‘The empirical formula can be obtained from the elemental analysis of a substance.’
      • ‘Newer techniques such as inductively coupled plasma spectrometry have taken over many aspects of elemental analysis.’
      • ‘Cytosolic activities roughly corresponded with elemental analysis of combined dry matter fractions from whole plants.’
      • ‘A qualitative elemental analysis was undertaken across the polished section so that common elements could be identified.’
      • ‘Forensic science was a hot topic at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego, and elemental analysis was a recurring theme.’
      • ‘In addition to ambient pollutant levels, elemental concentrations within moss tissue may be influenced by the nature of the sample.’
      • ‘Boyle's demand for experimental analysis as the arbiter of elemental status is a central component of this change.’
      • ‘The findings of the elemental analysis are expressed as percentages of the dry matter.’
      • ‘Furthermore, elemental microbeam analysis indicated that the growth of maize in heavy metal soils was, at least in part, due to the selective immobilization of metals within the root tissues that contain the fungal cells.’
      • ‘Simply stated, one cannot have more minerals in equilibrium than there are components (in this case, the four elemental oxides).’
      • ‘So visual differentiation of the individual species in many specimens is tentative and can be verified only with some type of elemental analysis.’
      • ‘Recognition of these elemental associations and their environments of formation is the basis for geochemical exploration.’
      • ‘X-ray spectrometers are attached routinely to scanning electron microscopes and these provide elemental analyses of samples in the SEM and are a powerful means for pigment identification.’
      • ‘Qualitative elemental analysis methods comprise both instrumental and chemical or ‘wet’ techniques.’
      • ‘Both men helped to systematize chemistry, to define the law of definite proportions and the underlying atomic and elemental principles.’
      • ‘This task is complicated by the multitude of chemical compounds in the interstellar medium and the elemental line spectra in the originating star light.’
      • ‘The identity of the synthesized compound was tested by elemental analysis.’
      • ‘These are capable of identifying materials at the molecular, rather than elemental, level and can be applied to paint binding media as well as to pigments.’
      • ‘Electron microscopes are usually equipped with an analytical system that also allows for simultaneous elemental analysis of the sample's surface.’
    2. 1.2Denoting uncombined chemical elements.
      ‘elemental sulphur’
      • ‘The oxidation number of an atom in an elemental substance is zero.’
      • ‘The most hydrophobic and fungitoxic compound unexpectedly proved to be elemental sulphur.’
      • ‘The start of fluorine chemistry can be traced back to the isolation of elemental fluorine, FCF 2, by Henri Moissan in 1886.’
      • ‘They irradiated these glasses for five minutes with intense synchrotron radiation, which triggered the photochemical reduction of the gold ions to elemental gold.’
      • ‘We keep finding new and bigger sources, but we think that levels of elemental mercury in the atmosphere are not increasing.’
      • ‘Other elements occur naturally in a pure or elemental form, like sulphur or gold.’
      • ‘Declining American reserves of elemental sulphur could open up export possibilities.’
      • ‘I had a graduate student who used to like to pan for gold and a couple of times he brought some of his pannings in to show me: Big droplets of elemental mercury.’
      • ‘For example, hydrogen is always found as a molecule in its elemental form (pure hydrogen).’
  • 2Related to or embodying the powers of nature.

    ‘a thunderstorm is the inevitable outcome of battling elemental forces’
    • ‘He said he believed that un-vegetated peat and mineral soil, especially at such an exposed location, was subject to elemental erosion.’
    • ‘With the elemental forces of nature battering away at them, Molesey and Dulwich Hamlet put on a show of football that was at times breathtaking given the rain and wind that lashed Molesey Park Stadium.’
    natural, atmospheric, meteorological, environmental
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    1. 2.1(of an emotion) powerful and primitive.
      ‘a magical, elemental desire’
      • ‘After a few readings, you can understand that her reality has a deep human presence, elemental sorrow, and ecstasy.’
      • ‘But the most profound, and the hardest to convey, is the sense of elemental wonder it can inspire.’
      • ‘For me it had little to do with killing a fox, though that must have been part of the elemental excitement and fear I felt, and that everyone seemed to share.’
      • ‘From the mid-1880s he began to use violent colour and linear distortions to express the most elemental emotions of fear, love, and hatred.’
      • ‘If only we could believe America truly took the lesson of 9/11 - elemental disgust at war and the things of war.’
      • ‘Learning to manage the planet's resources, while keeping out of the way of its elemental fury is even more difficult.’
      • ‘There were no tears in her eyes, but the oceans of pure blue held every ounce of her sadness like a bucket of ice melting and overflowing with a powerful sweep of elemental passion.’
      • ‘There might be a third reason, namely, that this reticent, withdrawn man felt wary of immersing himself for too long in the elemental passions of the ordinary West Indian.’
      • ‘The more unvarnished and elemental the emotion, the more likely we glib sophisticates will roll our eyes: oh, please.’
      • ‘Of course, the central component was, and remains, one of raw, elemental interest.’
      • ‘As he points out in the catalogue, the elemental feelings about life and death evoked in these paintings of solitary stags convey a mood of religious awe.’
      • ‘A man comes out with a camera to catch this display of raw, elemental hatred.’
      • ‘His interest is solely in the elemental feelings of this simple girl.’
      • ‘I'm not sure about the origins of the elemental satisfaction I derive sunk down in the cushions of my chair.’
      • ‘People who chase the elemental thrills of raw sea creatures probably know the feeling.’
      • ‘Though it is the painful season of Christ's agony and death, it belongs in Chaucer to the elemental happiness rising from the resurrecting earth.’
      • ‘Moreover, both moments of elemental happiness are undercut by sharp turns toward alienation and fear.’
      • ‘McManus' character is defined by a relentless and elemental instinct to compete, but nothing brings out the raw desire in him like International Rules football.’
      • ‘And so, for Freud, ‘society’ is a mutual pact for the repression of elemental lust.’
      basic, primary, principal, fundamental, essential, elementary, radical, root, underlying
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  • A supernatural entity or force thought to be physically manifested by occult means.

    ‘gods and elementals looked out upon the worshippers’
    • ‘But neither the light of the crystals nor the praise from the elementals could lift the darkness within her.’
    • ‘Both humans and elementals can see right through all 17 domes and gaze upon the blue crystal-like city located within the first and largest dome at the center of Aquaria.’
    • ‘When dealing with energy or elementals, I tend to see them as dragons.’
    • ‘His output included straightforward pictures (particularly portraits), but his most characteristic works are weird images of a world of spirits and elementals.’
    • ‘Your god acts as your spellcaster that can perform such tasks as summon elementals, raise your dead units and transform land to give your lesser units an advantage during combat.’
    • ‘With the discovery that the Fire elementals were acting alone, the humans and elementals united to try and stop the force.’
    • ‘With demons and elementals, one uses a thaumaturgic circle to call them into and bind them.’
    • ‘Water elementals are powerful beings and I did not consider saying no at any time to the request.’
    • ‘When creating him I saw him as being a slightly melancholy but essentially decent young man, and I imagined his destiny would involve being one of the people to finally bring peace between humanity and the elementals.’
    • ‘I do not think elementals are evil as some people believe, you cannot class things like fire and water as evil as they are not conscious and therefore not aware of what they do.’
    • ‘Some mages in one of the other planes have learned how to trap them and force the elementals to do their bidding.’
    • ‘You have different names for them; elementals, fairies, and devas for example.’
    • ‘If we stop assuming that they are physical creatures and work from the principle that they are some kind of nature spirits or elementals tied to a particular body of water and treat them as such, would they respond to traditional methods?’
    • ‘‘The Ghosts are obviously well-prepared, to openly fight elementals like this,’ Storm said, motioning to the water.’


Late 15th century: from medieval Latin elementalis, from elementum principle, rudiment (see element).