As I have seen several times of the using of those two words in even the same book. But I don't know what's the difference meaning between those two words.

  • 1
    You need a dictionary. The two words could be interchangeable, but they do not mean precisely the same thing. 'Indispensable' is the stronger of the two, meaning that the thing in question is 'totally essential'.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 6:19
  • @WS2 Yes. Longman said Essential extremely important and necessary: Water is essential for life./ The right to protest is an essential part of any democracy./ They learn skills that are essential for success in later life. / I missed out an essential ingredient.
    – David Li
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 9:06
  • @WS2 Indispensable If someone or something is indispensable, you cannot do something without them and they are extremely useful: She soon made herself indispansable in the office. / Mobile phones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives.
    – David Li
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 9:09
  • @WS2 So actually, I don't know what's the distinguish between those two words in the area of nutrition. anyway, I got it, I will use Essential Amino Acid more frequently in the future for my scientific paper.
    – David Li
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


Indispensable nutrients (including amino acids) are those without which life is impossible. Indispensable nutrients that cannot be internally produced, but must be consumed from some external source, are called essential.

"Essential" is a scientific term of art in nutrition (i.e. it has a fixed, universally understood meaning); "indispensable" is not. As a result, the two are sometimes used interchangeably.

  • Many Thanks for your kindly help. So I think i should use “Essential” instead of "Indispensable" in my science paper.
    – David Li
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 9:02
  • 1
    I think so, yes.
    – MT_Head
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 14:46
  • 1
    Ironically, the 'indispensible' ones are those that are needed so little that the animal can afford to allow the supply to be from so risky a source as food.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 22:45

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