From French essence, from Latin essentia ("the being or essence of a thing"), from an artificial formation of esse ("to be"), to translate Ancient Greek (ousía, "being"), from (?n), present participle of ? (eimí, "I am, exist").
essence (countable and uncountable, plural essences)
- The inherent nature of a thing or idea.
- 1713 September 21, Joseph Addison, The Guardian, collected in The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, volume IV, Birmingham: John Baskerville, published 1761, page 263:
- CHARITY is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands, says an old writer. Gifts and alms are the expressions, not the essence of this virtue.
1824, Walter Savage Landor, "Oliver Cromwel and Walter Noble", in Imaginary Conversations, volume I, 2nd edition, London: Henry Colburn, published 1826, page 105:
They [the laws] are at present, both in form and essence, the greatest curse that society labours under ; the scorn of the wicked, the consternation of the good, the refuge of those who violate, and the ruin of those who appeal to them.
- (philosophy) The true nature of anything, not accidental or illusory.
- Constituent substance.
1667, John Milton, "Book I", in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [...] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [...] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [...], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [...], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [...], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 423-429:
For Spirits when they please / Can either Sex assume, or both ; so soft / And uncompounded is their Essence pure, / Not ti'd or manacl'd with joynt or limb, / Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones, / Like cumbrous flesh [...]
- A being; especially, a purely spiritual being.
1667, John Milton, "Book I", in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [...] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [...] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [...], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [...], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [...], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 132-139:
And put to proof his high Supremacy, / Whether upheld by strength, or Chance, or Fate, / Too well I see and rue the dire event, / That with sad overthrow and foul defeat / Hath lost us Heav'n, and all this mighty Host / In horrible destruction laid thus low, / As far as Gods and Heav'nly Essences / Can Perish.
1824, Washington Irving, "The Adventure of the German Student", in The Works of Washington Irving, volume VII, new edition, New York: G. P. Putnam & Company, published 1853, page 55: He [Gottfried Wolfgang] had been indulging in fanciful speculations on spiritual essences, until, like Swedenborg, he had an ideal world of his own around him.
- A significant feature of something.
- (Can we add an example for this sense?)
- The concentrated form of a plant or drug obtained through a distillation process.
essence of Jojoba
- An extract or concentrate obtained from a plant or other matter used for flavouring.
- Fragrance, a perfume.
a flavouring for food or drink
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked
From Old French, from Latin essentia. Sense 2 very likely from Latin ed? ("eat"), in the sense of 'what is eaten, fuel'. Many forms of the latter are indistinguishable from the former, and so the confusion with essence is very understandable.
essence f (plural essences)
- (philosophy, theology) essence
- petrol, gasoline
- essence, essential oil