Definition for ES'SENCE

ES'SENCE, n. [L. essentia; Fr. essence; It. essenza; Sp. esencia; from L. esse, to be; Sw. väsende; Goth. wisands, from wisan, Sax. wesan, to be, whence was. The sense of the verb is, to set, to fix, to be permanent.]

  1. That which constitutes the particular nature of a being or substance, or of a genus, and which distinguishes it from all others. Mr. Locke makes a distinction between nominal essence and real essence. The nominal essence, for example, of gold, is that complex idea expressed by gold; the real essence is the constitution of its insensible parts, on which its properties depend, which is unknown to us. The essence of God bears no relation to place. E. D. Griffin.
  2. Formal existence; that which makes any thing to be what it is; or rather, the peculiar nature of a thing; the very substance; as, the essence of Christianity.
  3. Existence; the quality of being. I could have resign'd my very essence. Sidney.
  4. A being; an existent person; as, heavenly essences. Milton.
  5. Species of being. Bacon.
  6. Constituent substance; as, the pure essence of a spirit. [Locke's real essence, supra.] Milton.
  7. The predominant qualities or virtues of any plant or drug, extracted, refined or rectified from grosser matter; or more strictly, a volatile essential oil; as, the essence of mint.
  8. Perfume, odor, scent; or the volatile matter constituting perfume. Nor let th' imprisoned essences exhale. Pope.

Return to page 92 of the letter “E”.