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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Vital \Vi"tal\, a. [F., fr. L. vitalis, fr. vita life; akin to vivere to live. See Vivid.] 1. Belonging or relating to life, either animal or vegetable; as, vital energies; vital functions; vital actions. [1913 Webster] 2. Contributing to life; necessary to, or supporting, life; as, vital blood. [1913 Webster] Do the heavens afford him vital food? --Spenser. [1913 Webster] And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth. --Milton. [1913 Webster] 3. Containing life; living. "Spirits that live throughout, vital in every part." --Milton. [1913 Webster] 4. Being the seat of life; being that on which life depends; mortal. [1913 Webster] The dart flew on, and pierced a vital part. --Pope. [1913 Webster] 5. Very necessary; highly important; essential. [1913 Webster] A competence is vital to content. --Young. [1913 Webster] 6. Capable of living; in a state to live; viable. [R.] [1913 Webster] Pythagoras and Hippocrates . . . affirm the birth of the seventh month to be vital. --Sir T. Browne. [1913 Webster] Vital air, oxygen gas; -- so called because essential to animal life. [Obs.] Vital capacity (Physiol.), the breathing capacity of the lungs; -- expressed by the number of cubic inches of air which can be forcibly exhaled after a full inspiration. Vital force. (Biol.) See under Force. The vital forces, according to Cope, are nerve force (neurism), growth force (bathmism), and thought force (phrenism), all under the direction and control of the vital principle. Apart from the phenomena of consciousness, vital actions no longer need to be considered as of a mysterious and unfathomable character, nor vital force as anything other than a form of physical energy derived from, and convertible into, other well-known forces of nature. Vital functions (Physiol.), those functions or actions of the body on which life is directly dependent, as the circulation of the blood, digestion, etc. Vital principle, an immaterial force, to which the functions peculiar to living beings are ascribed. Vital statistics, statistics respecting the duration of life, and the circumstances affecting its duration. Vital tripod. (Physiol.) See under Tripod. Vital vessels (Bot.), a name for latex tubes, now disused. See Latex. [1913 Webster]