It has been argued, notably by art-activist group the Guerrilla Girls, that the second definition of 'seminal' below is a little on the sexist side, associating as it does all truly original or influential creative work with maleness. In any case, it's certainly a tired-out word that seems to appear in every review of any cultural work that anyone likes.

The GGs recommend using germinal as an alternative, at least every now and then, and, as I was surprised to find, Webster's seems to agree that the two terms are equivalent for this purpose. It's still a gender-bound word, though. Many academic types seem to like the word radical for purposes of discussing the roots of things - that word's getting a bit overloaded, though. Maybe primary?

Sem"i*nal (?), a. [L. seminalis, fr. semen, seminis, seed, akin to serere to sow: cf. F. seminal. See Sow to scatter seed.]


Pertaining to, containing, or consisting of, seed or semen; as, the seminal fluid.


Contained in seed; holding the relation of seed, source, or first principle; holding the first place in a series of developed results or consequents; germinal; radical; primary; original; as, seminal principles of generation; seminal virtue.

The idea of God is, beyond all question or comparison, the one great seminal principle. Hare.

Seminal leaf Bot., a seed leaf, or cotyleden. -- Seminal receptacle. Zool. Same as Spermatheca.


© Webster 1913.

Sem"i*nal (?), n.

A seed.


Sir T. Browne.


© Webster 1913.

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