From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Essential \Es*sen"tial\ ([e^]s*s[e^]n"sjal), a. [Cf. F.
   essentiel. See Essence.]
   1. Belonging to the essence, or that which makes an object,
      or class of objects, what it is.
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            Majestic as the voice sometimes became, there was
            forever in it an essential character of
            plaintiveness.                        --Hawthorne.
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   2. Hence, really existing; existent.
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            Is it true, that thou art but a name,
            And no essential thing?               --Webster
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   3. Important in the highest degree; indispensable to the
      attainment of an object; indispensably necessary.
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            Judgment's more essential to a general
            Than courage.                         --Denham.
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            How to live? -- that is the essential question for
            us.                                   --H. Spencer.
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   4. Containing the essence or characteristic portion of a
      substance, as of a plant; highly rectified; pure; hence,
      unmixed; as, an essential oil. "Mine own essential
      horror." --Ford.
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   5. (Mus.) Necessary; indispensable; -- said of those tones
      which constitute a chord, in distinction from ornamental
      or passing tones.
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   6. (Med.) Idiopathic; independent of other diseases.
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   Essential character (Biol.), the prominent characteristics
      which serve to distinguish one genus, species, etc., from

   Essential disease, Essential fever (Med.), one that is
      not dependent on another.

   Essential oils (Chem.), a class of volatile oils, extracted
      from plants, fruits, or flowers, having each its
      characteristic odor, and hot burning taste. They are used
      in essences, perfumery, etc., and include many varieties
      of compounds; as lemon oil is a terpene, {oil of bitter
      almonds} an aldehyde, oil of wintergreen an ethereal
      salt, etc.; -- called also volatile oils in distinction
      from the fixed or nonvolatile.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Essential \Es*sen"tial\ ([e^]s*s[e^]n"sjal), n.
   1. Existence; being. [Obs.] --Milton.
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   2. That which is essential; first or constituent principle;
      as, the essentials of religion.
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