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

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin vītālis, equivalent to vīt(a) life (derivative of vīvere to live; akin to Greek bíesthai, Sanskrit jīvati (he) lives, English quick) + -ālis -al1

vitally, adverb
vitalness, noun
nonvital, adjective
nonvitally, adverb
nonvitalness, noun
quasi-vital, adjective
quasi-vitally, adverb
supervital, adjective
supervitally, adverb
supervitalness, noun
unvital, adjective
unvitally, adverb
unvitalness, noun

5. important, critical. Unabridged


plural noun
those bodily organs that are essential to life, as the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and stomach.
the essential parts of something: the vitals of a democracy.

1600–10; translation of Latin vītālia; see vital Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
vital (ˈvaɪtəl)
1.  essential to maintain life: the lungs perform a vital function
2.  forceful, energetic, or lively: a vital person
3.  of, relating to, having, or displaying life: a vital organism
4.  indispensable or essential: books vital to this study
5.  of great importance; decisive: a vital game
6.  archaic influencing the course of life, esp negatively: a vital treachery
7.  (plural)
 a.  the bodily organs, such as the brain, liver, heart, lungs, etc, that are necessary to maintain life
 b.  the organs of reproduction, esp the male genitals
8.  (plural) the essential elements of anything
[C14: via Old French from Latin vītālis belonging to life, from vīta life]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "of or manifesting life," from L. vitalis "of or belonging to life," from vita "life," related to vivere "to live," from PIE base *gwei- (cf. O.Pers. *jivaka- "alive;" Gk. bios "life," zoon "animal;" Lith. gyvata "(eternal) life;" O.E. cwic, cwicu "living, alive;" O.Ir. bethu "life;" cf.
also bio-). The sense of "necessary or important" is from 1610s, via the notion of "essential to life" (late 15c.).

"organs of the body essential to life," c.1600, from the adj. vital taken as a noun.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

vital vi·tal (vīt'l)

  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.

vitals vi·tals (vīt'lz)

  1. The vital body organs.

  2. The parts that are essential to continued functioning, as of a system.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Computing Dictionary

VITAL definition

A semantics language using FSL, developed by Mondshein in 1967.
[Sammet 1969, p. 641].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
vital signs (pulse rate, temperature, respiratory rate)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Without these essential proteins, vital chemical reactions would occur far too
  slowly, if at all.
It was vital in demonstrating the rate at which the universe is expanding.
Had one come up in the service elevator, though, an unmistakable aroma would
  have given a vital clue.
Jostling rain-crowds, clamorous and vital, struggle in runnels through the
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