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.
- A pure substance.
- The essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form.
- (alchemy) The fifth alchemical element, or essence, after earth, air, fire, and water
- (physics) A hypothetical form of dark energy postulated to explain observations of an accelerating universe.
- (most perfect example of its type): See also Thesaurus:model
- (pure substance): See also Thesaurus:non-mixture
- (essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form): See also Thesaurus:gist
- quintessence in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- “quintessence” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
- “quintessence” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.