Definition of quintessence in English:

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Pronunciation: /kwɪnˈtɛs(ə)ns/


1The most perfect or typical example of a quality or class: he was the quintessence of political professionalism
More example sentences
  • 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’.
perfect example, exemplar, prototype, stereotype, picture, epitome, embodiment, personification, paragon, ideal;
best, cream, elite, flower, jewel, gem, pick, prime, last word, acme of perfection;
French crème de la crème, beau idéal
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
essence, soul, spirit, ethos, nature, core, heart, centre, crux, nub, nucleus, kernel, marrow, pith, substance, sum and substance
informal nitty-gritty
Philosophy  quiddity, esse
2A refined essence or extract of a substance.
Example sentences
  • 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(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.
Example sentences
  • 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.


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

  • Classical and medieval philosophers believed that there were four elements that made up everything that existed in the world ( see humour). In addition, they thought that there was a fifth substance hidden in all things, of which the heavenly bodies were composed. This they called the quintessence, from medieval Latin quinta essentia ‘fifth essence’. Later the word came to mean ‘the most typical or perfect example or form of something’, as in Sir Walter Scott's remark in a letter written in 1823, ‘You have escaped the quintessence of bores.’

Words that rhyme with quintessence

acquiescence, adolescence, arborescence, coalescence, convalescence, deliquescence, effervescence, essence, evanescence, excrescence, florescence, fluorescence, incandescence, iridescence, juvenescence, luminescence, obsolescence, opalescence, phosphorescence, pubescence, putrescence, quiescence

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Line breaks: quint|es¦sence

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