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[fuhn-duh-men-tl] /ˌfʌn dəˈmɛn tl/
serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying:
fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.
of, relating to, or affecting the foundation or basis:
a fundamental revision.
being an original or primary source:
a fundamental idea.
Music. (of a chord) having its root as its lowest note.
a basic principle, rule, law, or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part:
to master the fundamentals of a trade.
Also called fundamental note, fundamental tone. Music.
  1. the root of a chord.
  2. the generator of a series of harmonics.
Physics. the component of lowest frequency in a composite wave.
Origin of fundamental
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin fundāmentālis of, belonging to a foundation. See fundament, -al1
Related forms
fundamentality, fundamentalness, noun
fundamentally, adverb
nonfundamental, adjective, noun
nonfundamentally, adverb
unfundamental, adjective
unfundamentally, adverb
1. indispensable, primary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for fundamental
  • Learning how to create and use mental maps, therefore, is a fundamental part of the process of becoming geographically informed.
  • The three fishermen, for their part, observed the fundamental protocol: it was the captain's boat.
  • Stocks and sauces are a fundamental part of our cooking, and he has a true way with them.
  • Unfortunately, timing is not an inherent and fundamental part of our current software models.
  • Once the fundamental features were uncovered, the decorating began.
  • In today's world, multi-tasking is almost fundamental to living a functional life.
  • But for that happy moment to occur, many fundamental elements must be made right.
  • They universally depict the fundamental desperation lurking in every moment of life in the show ghetto.
  • But press reports were not the fundamental cause of the loss of domestic support for the war.
  • One fundamental mistake that permeates the educational system is the confusion between memorization and knowledge.
British Dictionary definitions for fundamental


of, involving, or comprising a foundation; basic
of, involving, or comprising a source; primary
(music) denoting or relating to the principal or lowest note of a harmonic series
of or concerned with the component of lowest frequency in a complex vibration
a principle, law, etc, that serves as the basis of an idea or system
  1. the principal or lowest note of a harmonic series
  2. the bass note of a chord in root position
(physics) Also called fundamental frequency, first harmonic
  1. the component of lowest frequency in a complex vibration
  2. the frequency of this component
Derived Forms
fundamentality, fundamentalness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fundamental

mid-15c., "primary, original, pertaining to a foundation," modeled on Late Latin fundamentalis "of the foundation," from Latin fundamentum "foundation" (see fundament). Fundamentals "primary principles or rules" of anything is from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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