The "essence" of something is that part or property from which the thing's identity is derived. In other words, if you take away the essence of a thing, it loses its identity. The essence of a bicycle, for example, might be that it rides primarily on two wheels; devices which rely on one wheel aren't called bicycles, but rather "unicycles," and those with more than two are identified as "tricycles," wagons, cars, etc. Similarly, when we talk about the "essential component" of something, we are speaking of that component which is most basic to its identity. (Note: "Essential" can also mean "necessary" -- as in, Camilla's expertise is essential to the success of our efforts.)

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