I'm writing my research proposal and I have the following sentence:

The excess charge is considered crucial for the membrane penetration process.

I find the word crucial too strong and I'm searching for another word which is less strong in that context. I thought about required but it doesn't "fit well" with the sentence. Can you think about better word?

Also, I remember that there was a website for synonyms which also had some similar meaning words, but I can't find it. Do you know any of that kind?

  • A "thesaurus" is a listing of synonyms for various words. Some online thesauruses can be found at thesaurus.com/browse/crucial and merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/crucial ... If you are using Microsoft Word you can also click near to a word and press Shift+F7 to open a thesaurus.
    – Decency
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 0:10
  • @Yotam: Please let us know, what single word you have finally zeroed in on and accepted. Thanks.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 9:24
  • @Kris: I thought this was clear from the answer marked. I choose important.
    – Yotam
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 17:26

4 Answers 4


If crucial is a bit too "strong" for OP's purposes, I'd have thought the same would apply to vital, necessary, essential, etc., in that they all imply the process simply couldn't take place at all without the charge.

I therefore suggest it's important, which admits of the possibility that the process could take place without the charge, but by implication it would be less efficient, slower, or something. Personally I would also accept central as a "watered down" version of crucial, but I think some people would say that's another "vital" word.

  • For a non-"vital" connotation, you could also use recommended.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 1:50
  • Yes, but that raises questions about who exactly is doing the recommending. I don't know too much about OP's "membrane penetration" (I doubt it's the one that comes to mind for me!), so I don't know if his target audience would or should trust his judgement. I wouldn't trust Apple Corp if they recommended me to only play music purchased from iTunes on my iPod. Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 3:22
  • @FumbleFingers: +1 for the insight.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 9:22

What about necessary?

necessary (comparative more necessary, superlative most necessary)
1. needed, required


I like necessary that RiMMER Ψ suggests, an additional choice could be essential.

As for synonyms reference online, dictionaries like Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/) contain synonyms of the word explained.

Another useful site for synonyms is this one: http://www.synonym.com/


In the context of your sentence, vital works well (in the sense of being essential, necessary, or indispensable).

There are many synonym resources online, but I find the English Synonym Dictionary interesting in its approach.

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