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[vahyt-l] /ˈvaɪt l/
of or relating 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.
Origin of vital
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
Related forms
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
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vitally
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His opinions on all matters had gone so vitally astray, that they had not been worth having.

    The Vicar of Bullhampton Anthony Trollope
  • He was always eager to forgive, and the money was vitally necessary.

  • I want just five minutes conversation with you, on a matter which concerns you most vitally.

    In And Out Edgar Franklin
  • I came here to discuss the questions in which this section is so vitally interested.

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
  • But few parents, however, have the leisure and ability to do all that is demanded in this vitally essential branch of education.

    Popular Education Ira Mayhew
British Dictionary definitions for vitally


essential to maintain life: the lungs perform a vital function
forceful, energetic, or lively: a vital person
of, relating to, having, or displaying life: a vital organism
indispensable or essential: books vital to this study
of great importance; decisive: a vital game
(archaic) influencing the course of life, esp negatively: a vital treachery
  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
(pl) the essential elements of anything
Derived Forms
vitally, adverb
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin vītālis belonging to life, from vīta life
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 vitally



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vitally in Medicine

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.

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