vitals

[vahyt-lz]
plural noun
1.
those bodily organs that are essential to life, as the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and stomach.
2.
the essential parts of something: the vitals of a democracy.

Origin:
1600–10; translation of Latin vītālia; see vital

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

vitals
"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

vitals vi·tals (vīt'lz)
pl.n.

  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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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
vitals
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
Here was a charge going to the vitals of the case, made by a high official of
  the police agencies of the state.
Means and a medical resident begin their examination, taking vitals and gently
  quizzing their patient.
All night, a doctor will sit by the patient's side in a plastic lawn chair,
  carefully monitoring his vitals.
After several years thus spent, his distemper having seized his vitals, he
  perceived his end to draw near.
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