Vi"tal (?), a. [F., fr. L. vitalis,
fr. vita life; akin to vivere to live. See Vivid.]
1. Belonging or relating to life, either animal or
vegetable; as, vital energies; vital functions; vital
2. Contributing to life; necessary to, or
supporting, life; as, vital blood.
Do the heavens afford him vital food?
And vital virtue infused, and vital
3. Containing life; living. "Spirits that
live throughout, vital in every part." Milton.
4. Being the seat of life; being that on which life
The dart flew on, and pierced a vital
5. Very necessary; highly important;
A competence is vital to content.
6. Capable of living; in a state to live;
Pythagoras and Hippocrates . . . affirm the birth of the
seventh month to be vital. Sir T. Browne.
Vital air, oxygen gas; -- so called because
essential to animal life. [Obs.] -- Vital capacity
(Physiol.), the breathing capacity of the lungs; -- expressed by
the number of cubic inches of air which can be forcibly exhaled after a
full inspiration. -- Vital force. (Biol.)
See under Force. The vital forces, according to Cope, are nerve
force (neurism), growth force (bathmism), and thought force
(phrenism), all under the direction and control of the vital
principle. Apart from the phenomena of consciousness, vital actions no
longer need to be considered as of a mysterious and unfathomable character,
nor vital force as anything other than a form of physical energy derived
from, and convertible into, other well-known forces of nature. --
Vital functions (Physiol.), those functions or
actions of the body on which life is directly dependent, as the circulation
of the blood, digestion, etc. -- Vital principle,
an immaterial force, to which the functions peculiar to living beings
are ascribed. -- Vital statistics, statistics
respecting the duration of life, and the circumstances affecting its
duration. -- Vital tripod. (Physiol.) See
under Tripod. -- Vital vessels (Bot.),
a name for latex tubes, now disused. See Latex.
Vi"tal, n. A vital part; one of the