- The constituent elementary notions which constitute a complex notion, and must be enumerated to define it; sometimes called the nominal essence.
- The constituent quality or qualities which belong to any object, or class of objects, or on which they depend for being what they are (distinguished as real essence); the real being, divested of all logical accidents; that quality which constitutes or marks the true nature of anything; distinctive character; hence, virtue or quality of a thing, separated from its grosser parts."The laws are at present, both in form and essence, the greatest curse that society labors under." [Landor.]"Gifts and alms are the expressions, not the essence of this virtue [charity]." [Addison.]"The essence of Addison's humor is irony." [Courthope.]
- Constituent substance."And uncompounded is their essence pure." [Milton.]
- A being; esp., a purely spiritual being."As far as gods and heavenly essences Can perish." [Milton.]"He had been indulging in fanciful speculations on spiritual essences, until . . . he had and ideal world of his own around him." [W. Irving.]
- The predominant qualities or virtues of a plant or drug, extracted and refined from grosser matter; or, more strictly, the solution in spirits of wine of a volatile or essential oil; as, the essence of mint, and the like."The . . . word essence . . . scarcely underwent a more complete transformation when from being the abstract of the verb “to be,” it came to denote something sufficiently concrete to be inclosed in a glass bottle." [J. S. Mill.]
- Perfume; odor; scent; or the volatile matter constituting perfume."Nor let the essences exhale." [Pope.]
Etymology: F. essence, L. essentia, formed as if fr. a p. pr. of esse to be. See Is, and cf. Entity