Essential - essence

Posted by TheFallen on March 03, 2003

In Reply to: Essential oils posted by janes_kid on March 03, 2003

: "essential oils" is a common phrase among people who deal in aromas. Definitions often say describe something, perhaps an oil, with an aroma that is the product of "distillation".

: Does anyone know how the word "essential" got into smell business?

The following from the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of "essence":-

NOUN: 1. The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something.
2. The most important ingredient; the crucial element.
3. The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things.
4a. An extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in concentrated form. 4b. Such an extract in a solution of alcohol.
4c. A perfume or scent.
5. One that has or shows an abundance of a quality as if highly concentrated: a neighbor who is the essence of hospitality.
6. Something that exists, especially a spiritual or incorporeal entity.

The word "essence", as can be seen from 4c above, has been used on its own to describe perfumes or scents - essence of rose and so on. Its adjective "essential" is therefore well-used to apply to a range of highly concentrated fragrant oils. Of course, it does absolutely no harm from a marketing point of view that "essential" also has the meaning of "vital to existence".