Definition of essence in English:



  • 1The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.

    ‘conflict is the essence of drama’
    • ‘He had grasped the real essence of working class power.’
    • ‘The work of both artists is fuelled by a need to communicate the metaphysical essence of our existence.’
    • ‘They were also worried that broadcasting the music through microphones would destroy the beauty and essence of the music.’
    • ‘Indeed, sometimes the real essence of truth is only to be discovered in the narrative form.’
    • ‘Usually the design process involves taking messy reality and isolating its abstract essence.’
    • ‘She says the lack of time which GPs have to treat their patients is destroying the very essence of what it means to be a family doctor.’
    • ‘It would succeed in destroying the very essence of what this village is about, its rich countryside heritage.’
    • ‘And then sometimes, history is graced by an individual who comes and changes the very essence of humanity.’
    • ‘Such frivolous distinctions do not constitute the essence of religion.’
    • ‘The essence of chemistry is understanding and applying chemical reactions.’
    • ‘To me they epitomize the essence of femininity.’
    • ‘We cared for our guests because not to do so would betray the most profound essence of our humanity.’
    • ‘They ended up capturing the true essence of the two of them.’
    • ‘The time has come for architecture and planning to reflect the essence of democracy.’
    • ‘The chief aim of this inquiry has been to shed light on the nature and essence of the disagreement between the two.’
    • ‘It is obvious that he does not understand the true essence of sport, or human nature.’
    • ‘Her portrayal of the sexy evangelist Reno Sweeney was outstanding, catching the very essence of this character.’
    • ‘The raucous, inscrutable essence of democracy could almost be glimpsed in this maelstrom.’
    • ‘Analogies can obfuscate, but in their own way they can distill a matter to its essence.’
    • ‘The photographer is there to capture the true essence of the wedding day.’
    quintessence, soul, spirit, ethos, nature, life, lifeblood, core, heart, centre, crux, nub, nucleus, kernel, marrow, meat, pith, gist, substance, principle, central part, fundamental quality, basic quality, essential part, intrinsic nature, sum and substance, reality, actuality
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    1. 1.1Philosophy A property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is.
      • ‘As he later puts it, the study of categories is a study of essences, based in essential insights about the types of meanings and correlative types of things.’
      • ‘Do essences (or properties in general) exist in the physical world?’
      • ‘That is, items in all the categories are definable, so items in all the categories have essences - just as there is an essence of man, there is also an essence of white and an essence of musical.’
      • ‘The unnamed philosopher was indeed Locke, according to whom real essences made a thing what it was; it consisted of an item's internal structure.’
      • ‘Whereas the immediate explanation of the actuality of Aristotle's substances lay in what they were essentially, that was not the case with Avicenna's essences, for their status was that of the merely possible.’
    2. 1.2 An extract or concentrate obtained from a particular plant or other matter and used for flavoring or scent.
      • ‘Cream butter and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.’
      • ‘Put some crushed ice into a food processor and add the guava juice, lime juice, blackcurrant syrup and rum essence.’
      • ‘Stir in a few drops of peppermint essence.’
      • ‘Beat the butter, sugar, ground almonds and almond essence together.’
      • ‘Last week she made a chocolate cake and sloshed a huge quantity of vanilla essence into it straight from the bottle.’
      • ‘It's also rather delicious when you replace the vanilla essence with peppermint.’
      • ‘Whip the evaporated milk until frothy and then add the jelly, cheese, vanilla essence and lemon juice.’
      • ‘When cool, mix the gelatine into the mixture slowly with the vanilla essence.’
      • ‘Lightly whip the cream and fold this in, along with the vanilla essence.’
      • ‘It includes a variety flavoured with rose essence and sugar.’
      • ‘Put one teaspoon of vanilla essence in the yolk and two teaspoons of baking powder into the egg white.’
      • ‘Add vanilla essence and serve in a pancake with chocolate sauce and cream.’
      • ‘When choosing natural fragrances and products, look for ones with pure plant essences or essential oils (as listed on the label).’
      • ‘Add a few drops of almond essence to taste.’
      • ‘The Arabs recognized and refined these processes in the early Middle Ages, using them to make elixirs, perfumes, and medicines by extracting the essences from fruits and flowers.’
      • ‘The secrets to the supple skin and healthy hair found on the islands: native plant and herb essences.’
      • ‘The addition of two drops of vanilla essence in the glasses masked the flavour of both the beverages.’
      extract, concentrate, concentration, quintessence, distillate, elixir, abstraction, decoction, juice, tincture, solution, suspension, dilution
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  • in essence

    • Basically and without regard for peripheral details; fundamentally.

      ‘in detail the class system is complex but in essence it is simple’
      • ‘The geniuses that we so often read about and hear about are in essence no different from us.’
      • ‘I have changed my mind, for better or worse, because in essence this is a diary even though I don't want it to be.’
      • ‘It has been convincingly argued that nostalgia is, in essence, a state of depression.’
      • ‘The rest were in essence apolitical, which made their attitude even more alarming.’
      • ‘It doesn't matter who you are or what you are, in essence we all carry the same powerful feeling.’
      • ‘But, in essence there is now something bigger and more important than just being here.’
      • ‘Both types of wedding are, in essence, variations on the traditional fairytale ending.’
      • ‘It may sound crude, but that is, in essence, the choice women are repeatedly asked to make.’
      • ‘Because in essence, power is getting other people to accept your interpretation of things.’
      • ‘They say that the mind works, in essence, like an enormously complicated algorithm.’
      • ‘To wish it were otherwise is in essence to wish that we were not physical beings at all.’
      • ‘Football, in essence, is competitive and it is important for the health of the game that it remains so.’
      basically, fundamentally, elementally, essentially, at bottom, at heart, primarily, principally, chiefly, firstly, predominantly, substantially, in substance, materially
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  • of the essence

    • Critically important.

      ‘time will be of the essence’
      • ‘Time is of the essence because of the enormity of the state's pollution problems.’
      • ‘The meeting was hastily arranged because time was of the essence.’
      • ‘I'm a great believer that once you decide what to do, speed is of the essence.’
      • ‘Time is of the essence, especially when you're live on air.’
      • ‘But with such a worrying deadline, speed is of the essence for the company.’
      • ‘Doesn't the Government realise that time is of the essence?’
      • ‘For the critically ill or injured time may be of the essence.’
      • ‘Obviously speed is of the essence in this case if such an application is to be made.’
      • ‘In a lot of what we did speed was of the essence, but we didn't really understand the concept of time.’
      • ‘I suppose I don't need to say that speed is of the essence here, but I will anyway.’
      vital, essential, indispensable, crucial, key, necessary, needed, required, called for, requisite, important, all-important, vitally important, of the utmost importance, of great consequence, critical, life-and-death, imperative, mandatory, compulsory, obligatory, urgent, pressing, burning, compelling, acute, paramount, pre-eminent, high-priority, significant, consequential
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Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin essentia, from esse ‘be’.