Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

essential - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun essential pronunciation in British English /ɪˈsenʃ(ə)l/
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] [usually plural] something that is needed for life, or needed in a particular situation
    food, water, and other essentials
    She packed a few essentials and headed for the airport.
    the bare/barest essentials: Millions of people lack even the bare essentials.
  2. 2


    [plural] the most basic and important aspects of a subject
    essential of: He agreed to teach me the essentials of web page design.


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog