From Middle English, borrowed from Middle French, from Medieval Latin quinta essentia (“fifth essence, aether”). "Essence" in this context is a synonym for "element". In pre-atomic/Aristotlean theory, there are four known elements or essences — Earth, Air, Fire and Water — and a putative fifth element (aether), which is considered to be of exceptional superior quality to the other four basic elements.
- A thing that is the most perfect example of its type; the most perfect embodiment of something; epitome, prototype.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:model
- A pure substance.
- The essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:gist
- 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 243–245:
- Let ther be Light, ſaid God, and forthwith Light, / Ethereal, firſt of things, quinteſſence pure, / Sprung from the Deep, [...]
- (alchemy) The fifth alchemical element, or essence, after earth, air, fire, and water that fills the universe beyond the terrestrial sphere.
- Synonym: aether
- (physics) A hypothetical form of dark energy postulated to explain observations of an accelerating universe.
- quintessence in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “quintessence”, in Online Etymology Dictionary
- “quintessence” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
quintessence f (plural quintessences)
- quintessence (all senses)