Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1400-1500
Language: Old French
Origin: quinte essence, from Medieval Latin quinta essentia 'fifth essence'; because it was in addition to the four elements earth, air, fire, and water

quintessence

noun
     
quin‧tes‧sence

the quintessence of something

formal a perfect example of something:
John is the quintessence of good manners.

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