Definition of existential in English:



  • 1Relating to existence.

    • ‘Every few months it seems like all bloggers are called upon to answer the big existential question, ‘What's A Weblog?’’
    • ‘Thus, myth is a kind of language made up of symbols whose referent is the sacred, and whose meanings are concerned with ultimate or existential issues of human life and destiny.’
    • ‘The problems are not only theoretical; they are existential.’
    • ‘Although the figures are unmistakably American in appearance, their titles suggest general existential conditions.’
    • ‘The young Scorsese depicts the sights, sounds and existential desperation of Little Italy's underworld, combining hardcore realism with a sense of subtlety bordering on the sublime.’
    • ‘Nashe in The Music of Chance has a compulsion to doubt - the ‘ordinary’ characters are only marginal figures - engaged in a cycle of powerful existential anguish.’
    • ‘Consequently, in his exhibition, the art-work is not a scene of intimate significance, but a testimony of engagement with the crucial existential issues of its epoch and locale.’
    • ‘Finally, someone had brought up the existential question: for the brief time between Pac-Man disappearing from one side of the screen and appearing on the other, where does he go?’
    • ‘By default, Giacometti's figures are read, even today, as symbols of the existential condition of humanity, a last-ditch stand before the void.’
    • ‘That manifestation of the changed existential condition took us unawares - as the change itself took us unprepared.’
    • ‘Yet, although their tackling of such existential matters displays a maturity that few of their hard-rocking colleagues ever come near, the means of delivery can at times seem adolescent.’
    • ‘Rather than decide to actually cover this story of monstrous proportions, they resorted instead to bogus and pathetic bouts of existential soul-searching.’
    • ‘Instead, we are concerned with certain existential realities that confront us, and which will continue to confront us.’
    • ‘I'm not sure if Kelly is correct to call this the Church's ‘greatest existential crisis since the Reformation.’’
    • ‘We can of course make an explicit existential judgement which affirms the existence of the world, but in so doing we are merely making explicit what was there all along.’
    • ‘So I've been going through an existential reckoning lately, in which I'm in the process of critically examining what I'm doing with my life and why I'm doing it.’
    • ‘The existential condition of living in a body mediates our perceptual experience of the world.’
    • ‘This statement of existential purpose implies a domestic emphasis - that we must be prepared to fight significantly different kinds of wars from what we think of today.’
    • ‘As well as providing succour for those troubled by the existential dilemma, religion, or at least a primitive spirituality, would have played another important role as human societies developed.’
    • ‘According to Berman, brain images and models may skew and privilege model-friendly properties over existential characteristics of life and thought.’
    1. 1.1Philosophy Concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism.
      • ‘She argues that Mary Daly, like Tillich, correlates existential questions with ontological/theological concerns.’
      • ‘As a statement of existential ontology this says nothing about which affective states are most prevalent.’
      • ‘So philosophers take the risk of nihilism and existential dread because the allure of wonder is too great.’
      • ‘The existential philosopher Martin Heidegger precedes Foucault in attempting to understand the historical conditionalitics of Being’
      • ‘Administrators were censoring existential themes out of student publications, while Francis was discussing Camus, Sartre, and Heidegger.’
    2. 1.2Logic (of a proposition) affirming or implying the existence of a thing.
      • ‘If Quine is correct, then we have a means of handling existential propositions that treats them neither as tautologies nor as contradictions,’
      • ‘Peirce aimed to extend Venn's system in expressive power with respect to the first two kinds of propositions, i.e., existential and disjunctive statements.’
      • ‘Life after Rupert - soon to be 72 - may be the most existential proposition in business today.’
      • ‘So, singular negative existential propositions are no less paradoxical than are general ones.’


Late 17th century: from late Latin existentialis, from existentia (see existence).