Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or relating to the foundation or base; elementary.
  • adjective Forming or serving as an essential component of a system or structure; central.
  • adjective Of great significance or entailing major change.
  • adjective Of or relating to the lowest possible frequency or the lowest frequency component of a vibrating element, system, periodic wave, or quantity.
  • adjective Music Having the root in the bass.
  • noun Something that is an essential or necessary part of a system or object.
  • noun The lowest frequency of a periodically varying quantity or of a vibrating system.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to the foundation; serving as or being a component part of a foundation or basis; hence, essential; important; original; elementary: as, a fundamental truth or principle; a. fundamental law.
  • See fundamental, n., 2.
  • The low tone generated by the tones of a chord. Also called fundamental note.
  • noun A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; an essential part: as, the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
  • noun In music: The root of a chord.
  • noun The generator of a series of harmonics. Also called fundamental bass, note, or tone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part, .
  • adjective Pertaining to the foundation or basis; serving for the foundation.
  • adjective (Mus.) the root note of a chord; a bass formed of the roots or fundamental tones of the chords.
  • adjective (Mus.) a chord, the lowest tone of which is its root.
  • adjective red, green, and violet-blue. See Primary colors, under Color.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part, as, the fundamentals of linear algebra.
  • adjective Pertaining to the foundation or basis; serving for the foundation. Hence: Essential, as an element, principle, or law; important; original; elementary; as, a fundamental truth; a fundamental axiom.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the lowest tone of a harmonic series
  • adjective far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect especially on the nature of something
  • noun any factor that could be considered important to the understanding of a particular business
  • adjective serving as an essential component
  • adjective being or involving basic facts or principles

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin fundamentalis, from Latin fundamentum ("foundation"), from fundare ("to lay the foundation (of something), to found"), from fundus ("bottom")

Examples

  • Here we join issue with those Socialist writers who advocate the endowment of motherhood and give it their own meaning; and that is why in a preceding paragraph the word fundamental has been emphasized, since in the endowment of motherhood as understood by socialists there are two principles, one which I call fundamental, and a second -- that the endowment shall be by the State -- which now falls to be considered.

    Woman and Womanhood A Search for Principles

  • There's no real harm in the use of the term fundamental in this context, but this is about where the word gets elevated beyond its usefulness and starts becoming a hurdle to progress, and then a barrier.

    Asymptotia

  • But, of course, the danger in messing with anything this fundamental is the possibility of royally screwing things up.

    Creating depth in fantasy worlds: Let your people be people «

  • Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, said he is worried that members of the Obama administration have lost sight of what he calls the fundamental question: "Are we actually keeping Americans safe?"

    Why Petraeus Can't Make The Sale

  • As though in tandem, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Breyer recited what they called a fundamental principle: that the public must be able to understand what a criminal law means.

    James D. Zirin: What Are Honest Services?

  • In places like Cleveland and Detroit, Donovan is planning what he called a fundamental rethinking of land use.

    HUD Announces Additional Funds To Fight Foreclosures

  • As though in tandem, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Breyer recited what they called a fundamental principle: that the public must be able to understand what a criminal law means.

    The Lost Art Of Honest Services

  • Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, said he is worried that members of the Obama administration have lost sight of what he calls the fundamental question: "Are we actually keeping Americans safe?"

    Why Petraeus Can't Make The Sale

  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky challenged us to "go to the mountain" -- as we have for education and voting rights -- to ensure health care for all, which he called a fundamental human right.

    Personal Tragedies Show Need for Health Care Reform: Video of "Congressional Send-Off Rally" in L.A.

  • Both the decisions accorded the principle of equality for women, which they termed a fundamental principle, much less than a hegemony in this balance.

    Equality, Religion and Gender in Israel.

Comments

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  • A word beloved of bores seeking to pad out their prattle. To me it just means "of the arse".

    March 14, 2008

  • People always wonder why I chuckle when they call themselves "fundamental Christians."

    March 15, 2008