A Word A Day : Quintessence

Thursday, 30th August 2007 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : kwin-tes'ens

1. The pure, highly concentrated essence of a thing.

2. The purest or most typical instance.

3. In ancient and medieval philosophy, the fifth and highest essence after the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, thought to be the substance of the heavenly bodies and latent in all things.

4. A basic trait or set of traits that define and establish the character of something.

5. The most central and material part.

6. Literally fifth essence


Middle English, from Old French quinte essence, fifth essence, from Medieval Latin quīnta essentia (translation of Greek pemptē ousiā : Latin quīnta, feminine of quīntus, fifth + Latin essentia, essence


1. Core

2. Essence

3. Gist

4. Heart

5. Kernel

6. Marrow

7. Meat

8. Nub

9. Pith

10. Root

11. Soul

12. Spirit

13. Stuff

14. Substance

15. Being

16. Essentiality

17. Nature

18. Texture



2. Irrelevant

Contextual Example:

• The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition.

• The quintessence of the torture was, moreover, my own secret.

• No French writer, however, has moved me so much as the Spanish, for the French are wanting in the humor which endears these, and is the quintessence of their charm.

Related Words:

Quintessential : Adjective

Quintessentially : Adverb

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