the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.
the most perfect embodiment of something.
(in ancient and medieval philosophy) the fifth essence or element, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth, and water.

1400–50; Middle English < Medieval Latin quīnta essentia fifth essence

quintessential [kwin-tuh-sen-shuhl] , adjective
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quintessence (kwɪnˈtɛsəns)
1.  the most typical representation of a quality, state, etc
2.  an extract of a substance containing its principle in its most concentrated form
3.  (in ancient and medieval philosophy) ether, the fifth and highest essence or element after earth, water, air, and fire, which was thought to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies and latent in all things
[C15: via French from Medieval Latin quinta essentia the fifth essence, translation of Greek pemptē ousia]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

early 15c., in ancient and medieval philosophy, "pure essence, substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," lit. "fifth essence," from M.Fr. quinte essence (14c.), from M.L. quinta essentia, from L. quinta, fem. of quintus "fifth" + essentia (see essence). Loan-translation
of Gk. pempte ousia, the "ether" added by Aristotle to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy. Sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.) is first recorded 1580s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He's the quintessence of arrogant ruthlessness, yet he's awkwardly innocent.
Dairy products are the quintessence of love and nature in my mind.
Its conclusion is the very quintessence of hopelessness.
Another version of the dark energy theory, called quintessence, suggests a
  force that varies in time and space.
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