1. of or relating to life: vital processes.
  2. having remarkable energy, liveliness, or force of personality: a vital leader.
  3. being the seat or source of life: the vital organs.
  4. necessary to life: vital fluids.
  5. necessary to the existence, continuance, or well-being of something; indispensable; essential: vital for a healthy society.
  6. affecting the existence, well-being, truth, etc., of something: a vital error.
  7. of critical importance: vital decisions.
  8. destructive to life; deadly: a vital wound.


  1. essential to maintain lifethe lungs perform a vital function
  2. forceful, energetic, or livelya vital person
  3. of, relating to, having, or displaying lifea vital organism
  4. indispensable or essentialbooks vital to this study
  5. of great importance; decisivea vital game
  6. archaic influencing the course of life, esp negativelya vital treachery


  1. (plural)
    1. the bodily organs, such as the brain, liver, heart, lungs, etc, that are necessary to maintain life
    2. the organs of reproduction, esp the male genitals
  2. (plural) the essential elements of anything

late 14c., “of or manifesting life,” from Latin vitalis “of or belonging to life,” from vita “life,” related to vivere “to live,” from PIE root *gwei- (cf. Old Persian *jivaka- “alive;” Greek bios “life,” zoon “animal;” Lithuanian gyvata “(eternal) life;” Old English cwic, cwicu “living, alive;” Old Irish bethu “life;” cf. also bio-). The sense of “necessary or important” is from 1610s, via the notion of “essential to life” (late 15c.). Vital capacity recorded from 1852.


  1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of life.
  2. Necessary to the continuation of life.
  3. Used or done on a living cell or tissue, as in staining.
  4. Destructive to life; fatal, as of an injury.

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