Share this entry

vital Syllabification: vi·tal
Pronunciation: /ˈvīdl/

Definition of vital in English:


1Absolutely necessary or important; essential: secrecy is of vital importance it is vital that the system is regularly maintained
More example sentences
  • ‘The role of the priest is absolutely vital to the Church and the welfare of priests would be one of my primary concerns,’ he said.
  • Therefore the hygienic handling and production of feed is absolutely vital to ensure safe food.
  • They say a new school is absolutely vital to the town and that if it is not delivered that well over 100 pupils may be turned away from primary schools in as little as three years time.
essential, of the essence, critical, crucial, key, indispensable, integral, all-important, imperative, mandatory, requisite, urgent, pressing, burning, compelling, high-priority, life-and-death, of the utmost importance, utmost
1.1Indispensable to the continuance of life: the vital organs
More example sentences
  • This procedure uses artificial extracorporeal circulation to provide oxygenated blood to vital organs while the heart is stopped.
  • Thus they became, in effect, extensions of the host itself - as indispensable as a vital organ.
  • Blood pressure and blood flow to vital organs drop suddenly.
major, main, chief;
essential, necessary
2Full of energy; lively: a beautiful, vital girl
More example sentences
  • This is said to balance the flow of vital energy (Qi, pronounced ‘chee’) in the body and regulate the function of the inner organs.
  • In this two-day course you will learn to harness and channel this vital energy to help yourself, family, friends, community and world situations.
  • He said there was an ancient ritual where a beautiful young girl would be asked to go down a mine that was running low in ore so she could ‘transmit her vital energy to Mother Earth’.
lively, energetic, active, sprightly, spry, spirited, vivacious, exuberant, bouncy, enthusiastic, vibrant, zestful, sparkling, dynamic, virile, vigorous, lusty, hale and hearty
3 archaic Fatal: the wound is vital


(vitals) Back to top  
1The body’s important internal organs, especially the gut or the genitalia.
Example sentences
  • This is the energy that keeps your heart beating and your lungs breathing, the vitals.
  • The white plates are composed of a very tough but light titanium alloy that provides a good deal of extra protection to the body's vitals.
  • The patient's vitals remained stable and blood loss was monitored closely during the procedure.
1.1 short for vital signs.


Late Middle English (describing the animating principle of living beings, also sense 2 of the adjective): via Old French from Latin vitalis, from vita 'life'. The sense 'essential' dates from the early 17th century.

  • Latin vita ‘life’ is the source of vital and also of vitamin. Medieval senses relate to the force or energy that is in all living things. A later meaning ‘essential to life’ evolved for anything regarded as essential, such as the vital organs, also known as the vitals from the early 17th century. Vital statistics are usually understood now as the measurements of a woman's bust, waist, and hips. This meaning has only been around since the 1950s, and for more than a hundred years before that vital statistics were just the numbers of births, marriages, and deaths in a population. See also artery



Example sentences
  • Such freedoms, and space for democratic organisation, are vitally important.
  • That tactic has harmed the honest debate of an issue vitally important to this country.
  • Remember, too, that while setting goals is vitally important, your goals need to be realistic.

Words that rhyme with vital

entitle, mistitle, recital, requital, title

Definition of vital in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwäˈfər
a hairdresser