fundamental

When asked what the fundamental, or essential, principles of life are, a teenager might reply, "Breathe. Be a good friend. Eat chocolate. Get gas money."

Fundamental has its roots in the Latin word fundamentum, which means "foundation." So if something is fundamental, it is a key point or underlying issue — the foundation, if you will — that the thing is built upon. Teachers argue that math fundamentals include memorizing the times tables and understanding long division. Many people would also argue that math fundamentals should include knowing how to use a calculator and knowing where the calculator's extra batteries are kept.

Definitions of fundamental
  1. adjective
    serving as an essential component
    “an example that was fundamental to the argument”
    “computers are fundamental to modern industrial structure”
    synonyms: cardinal, central, key, primal
    important, of import
    of great significance or value
  2. adjective
    being or involving basic facts or principles
    “the fundamental laws of the universe”
    “a fundamental incompatibility between them”
    synonyms: rudimentary, underlying
    basic
    pertaining to or constituting a base or basis
  3. adjective
    far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect especially on the nature of something
    “the fundamental revolution in human values that has occurred”
    “the book underwent fundamental changes”
    “committed the fundamental error of confusing spending with extravagance”
    synonyms: profound
    important, significant
    important in effect or meaning
  4. noun
    any factor that could be considered important to the understanding of a particular business
    fundamentals include a company's growth, revenues, earnings, management, and capital structure”
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    type of:
    factor
    anything that contributes causally to a result
  5. noun
    the lowest tone of a harmonic series
    synonyms: first harmonic, fundamental frequency
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    type of:
    harmonic
    a tone that is a component of a complex sound
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