Definition of essence in English:


See synonyms for essence

Translate essence into Spanish


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

    ‘conflict is the essence of drama’
    • ‘Her portrayal of the sexy evangelist Reno Sweeney was outstanding, catching the very essence of this character.’
    • ‘Usually the design process involves taking messy reality and isolating its abstract essence.’
    • ‘The chief aim of this inquiry has been to shed light on the nature and essence of the disagreement between the two.’
    • ‘They were also worried that broadcasting the music through microphones would destroy the beauty and essence of the music.’
    • ‘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 is obvious that he does not understand the true essence of sport, or human nature.’
    • ‘It would succeed in destroying the very essence of what this village is about, its rich countryside heritage.’
    • ‘The photographer is there to capture the true essence of the wedding day.’
    • ‘They ended up capturing the true essence of the two of them.’
    • ‘He had grasped the real essence of working class power.’
    • ‘Such frivolous distinctions do not constitute the essence of religion.’
    • ‘The time has come for architecture and planning to reflect the essence of democracy.’
    • ‘The work of both artists is fuelled by a need to communicate the metaphysical essence of our existence.’
    • ‘Indeed, sometimes the real essence of truth is only to be discovered in the narrative form.’
    • ‘The raucous, inscrutable essence of democracy could almost be glimpsed in this maelstrom.’
    • ‘And then sometimes, history is graced by an individual who comes and changes the very essence of humanity.’
    • ‘We cared for our guests because not to do so would betray the most profound essence of our humanity.’
    • ‘To me they epitomize the essence of femininity.’
    • ‘The essence of chemistry is understanding and applying chemical reactions.’
    • ‘Analogies can obfuscate, but in their own way they can distill a matter to its essence.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Philosophy A property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is.
      ‘Do essences (or properties in general) exist in the physical world?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2An extract or concentrate obtained from a particular plant or other matter and used for flavoring or scent.
      ‘Whip the evaporated milk until frothy and then add the jelly, cheese, vanilla essence and lemon juice.’
      • ‘The addition of two drops of vanilla essence in the glasses masked the flavour of both the beverages.’
      • ‘Cream butter and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.’
      • ‘It includes a variety flavoured with rose essence and sugar.’
      • ‘When choosing natural fragrances and products, look for ones with pure plant essences or essential oils (as listed on the label).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's also rather delicious when you replace the vanilla essence with peppermint.’
      • ‘Add vanilla essence and serve in a pancake with chocolate sauce and cream.’
      • ‘The secrets to the supple skin and healthy hair found on the islands: native plant and herb essences.’
      • ‘Last week she made a chocolate cake and sloshed a huge quantity of vanilla essence into it straight from the bottle.’
      • ‘Lightly whip the cream and fold this in, along with the vanilla essence.’
      • ‘Put one teaspoon of vanilla essence in the yolk and two teaspoons of baking powder into the egg white.’
      • ‘When cool, mix the gelatine into the mixture slowly with the vanilla essence.’
      • ‘Beat the butter, sugar, ground almonds and almond essence together.’
      • ‘Stir in a few drops of peppermint essence.’
      • ‘Put some crushed ice into a food processor and add the guava juice, lime juice, blackcurrant syrup and rum essence.’
      • ‘Add a few drops of almond essence to taste.’
      extract, concentrate, concentration, quintessence, distillate, elixir, abstraction, decoction, juice, tincture, solution, suspension, dilution
      View synonyms



/ˈes(ə)ns/ /ˈɛs(ə)ns/


    in essence
    • Basically and without regard for peripheral details; fundamentally.

      ‘in detail the class system is complex but in essence it is simple’
      • ‘Football, in essence, is competitive and it is important for the health of the game that it remains so.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 doesn't matter who you are or what you are, in essence we all carry the same powerful feeling.’
      • ‘To wish it were otherwise is in essence to wish that we were not physical beings at all.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The geniuses that we so often read about and hear about are in essence no different from us.’
      • ‘It may sound crude, but that is, in essence, the choice women are repeatedly asked to make.’
    of the essence
    • Critically important.

      ‘time will be of the essence’
      • ‘But with such a worrying deadline, speed is of the essence for the company.’
      • ‘I suppose I don't need to say that speed is of the essence here, but I will anyway.’
      • ‘For the critically ill or injured time may be of the essence.’
      • ‘I'm a great believer that once you decide what to do, speed is of the essence.’
      • ‘In a lot of what we did speed was of the essence, but we didn't really understand the concept of time.’
      • ‘Obviously speed is of the essence in this case if such an application is to be made.’
      • ‘Time is of the essence, especially when you're live on air.’
      • ‘Doesn't the Government realise that time is 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.’


Late Middle English via Old French from Latin essentia, from esse ‘be’.