Definition of quintessence in English:


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  • 1The most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

    ‘he was the quintessence of political professionalism’
    • ‘Previously I was playing a beautiful prelude in C sharp minor op. 45 by Chopin, a piece that is the quintessence of healing compassion, so my heart was full and my spirit was ready to heal.’
    • ‘Euro 2004 has begun on the right note, as a quintessence of football skills.’
    • ‘A commentary on the website of CBS, the nearest equivalent to the BBC for serious news in the US, summed up: ‘Diana was the quintessence of cool’.’
    • ‘Despite his trepidation, betrayed by occasional furtive glances to the right and left, Waddley was the quintessence of efficiency.’
    • ‘Rolfe Kent's sunny up-tempo soundtrack bubbles ironically along, its sixties Italian jazz the quintessence of carefree.’
    • ‘But above all the play itself - its writing, the conceptions it embodies, and the way it tells its story - is a quintessence of skill.’
    • ‘In his brilliant first volume on the Second World War, Winston Churchill describes French statesmanship on the eve of war as ‘the quintessence of defeatism.’’
    • ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy is the much-mocked quintessence of Hollywood's ham-fistedness when it comes to filming the lives of the great artists.’
    • ‘‘Fingerprint’ evidence was regarded as virtually beyond challenge until replaced in recent years by DNA hits as the very quintessence of certainty.’
    • ‘It would have redefined beauty, and captured the very quintessence of rural innocence.’
    • ‘Françoise Hardy was the waif-like archetype for a certain type of French vocal which many consider the quintessence of Sixties French pop.’
    • ‘Richard Conlon's Brick, handsome, quiet, explosively raging in his guilt and despair over the death of his friend, is the quintessence of the rich boy laid low by unforgiving social mores.’
    • ‘The quintessence of luxury, based upon a range of cashmere, the main collection for this winter is an irresistible invitation to enjoy the ultimate in refined elegance.’
    • ‘It's the quintessence of all the bad things about email and none of the good things.’
    • ‘In both his visits to the wicket he was the quintessence of anxiety.’
    • ‘Wachner is the quintessence of the driven, laser-focused American businesswoman.’
    • ‘Sometime snooker world champion, perpetually in the tabloids for his substance-assisted high jinks, he's the quintessence of Essex wide-boy.’
    perfect example, exemplar, prototype, stereotype, picture, epitome, embodiment, personification, paragon, ideal
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    1. 1.1The aspect of something regarded as the intrinsic and central constituent of its character.
      ‘we were all brought up to believe that advertising is the quintessence of marketing’
      • ‘Played in its unadulterated form the venerable, patriotic tune has a divine character: Cameron managed to capture the quintessence of the song.’
      • ‘It pronounces: ‘the constant endeavour to achieve a balance between bodily and mental health was the quintessence of the Greek spirit’.’
      • ‘The Authorized Version became the quintessence of Englishness and an index of human character.’
      • ‘The quintessence of religion lies in actual perception and realization of Self under tutelage of a perfect master of the time.’
      • ‘The speech contains much excellent advice, but perhaps the quintessence is, ‘To thine own self be true.’’
      • ‘The energy, the spirit and quintessence of the land of his birth dominate his personal space, from which emerges his external space - the canvas.’
      • ‘With eloquent violence, workers in Britain smashed the clocks above the factory gates, the loathed symbol of a new world order which had stolen their time, that quintessence of true individual freedom.’
      • ‘Rains, thunder, roaring rivers, sky-scraping hills, industrious people, charming smiling girls, Buddhist flavor, sensational jungles, and varied wildlife are the quintessence of the life of Darjeeling.’
      • ‘The Vedas are the quintessence of classical Hindu philosophy.’
      • ‘Other geographical regions defined by polka have emerged, for example the Texas-Mexico border regions, where various conjunto fusions have transformed polka while retaining its quintessence.’
      • ‘The family farm is the quintessence of old English society, embodying all those virtues of continuity, tradition, patriotism, and local attachment that our ancestors embraced and defended in two world wars.’
      • ‘And sitting in the dark theatre about halfway through Intern Academy, the subject of this little foray, I realized one thing: this film captures the quintessence of Canada.’
      • ‘Electricity is the quintessence of the ‘modern way of life’, but the electric power systems themselves are demanding, dangerous, and delicate.’
      • ‘If any high points are to be singled out on this cd, ‘Nostalgia’ is a good one, a raga that captures the quintessence of some musical explorations in certain times.’
      • ‘Paradoxically, however, critical discussions of these same films and their powerful physical effects also often suggest that they are the quintessence of cinema.’
      • ‘Not even a hint of this doctrine of salvation is to be found in the Sermon on the Mount - the quintessence of Jesus's message - or in the Lord's Prayer, or in Christ's traditional parables.’
      essence, soul, spirit, ethos, nature, core, heart, centre, crux, nub, nucleus, kernel, marrow, pith, substance, sum and substance
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    2. 1.2A refined essence or extract of a substance.
      ‘Mercury was believed to possess magical properties and some regarded it as the quintessence of the human body and of all substances.’
      • ‘Some chemists now turned less to distilled quintessences and more to precipitates and residues in their search for new remedies.’
    3. 1.3(in classical and medieval philosophy) a fifth substance in addition to the four elements, thought to compose the heavenly bodies and to be latent in all things.
      ‘Beyond the four elements, everything consisted of a fifth substance, the quintessence, which unlike them was not subject to any kind of change except locomotion, uniformly and in perfect circles.’
      • ‘In ancient philosophy, quintessence was believed to be the stuff of heavenly bodies, which Aristotle credited as divine, alive and intelligent.’
      • ‘The quintessence permeates the compost, soil and plants like astral perfume, and affects plant growth with subtle yet powerful forces of the cosmos.’



/kwinˈtes(ə)ns/ /kwɪnˈtɛs(ə)ns/


Late Middle English (as a term in philosophy): via French from medieval Latin quinta essentia ‘fifth essence’.