have to

idiom

Definition of have to

1 used to say that something is required or necessary You have to follow the rules.I told him what he had to do.We have to correct these problems soon or the project will fail.I have to remember to stop at the store."Do you have to go?" "Yes, I'm afraid I really have to."I didn't want to do it but I had to. also have got to You've got to stop.

Note: There is a difference in meaning between not have to, "it is not necessary to," and must not, "is not allowed to."

2 used to say that something is required by a rule or law All passengers have to exit at the next stop.All passengers have got to exit at the next stop.
3 used to say that something is desired or should be done You have to read this book. It's fantastic!You have to come visit us soon.You really have to see the doctor about that cough.You have got to come visit us soon.
4 used to say that something is very likely It has to be close to noon.She has to be the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.He has to have a lot of money to live the way he does.There has to be some mistake.There has got to be some mistake.
5 used in various spoken phrases to emphasize a statement I have to say, I was surprised to hear from him.She's a talented actress, you have to admit.I have to admit, I expected better results.It has to be said that the movie was not very good.I have to warn you, this will not be easy.I have got to say, I was surprised to hear from him.
6 used in questions or statements that express annoyance or anger Do you have to be so unreasonable?Why does it always have to rain on the weekend?It has got to rain on the day when we planned a picnic.

Learn More About have to

Statistics for have to

Cite this Entry

“Have to.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/have%20to. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on have to

Nglish: Translation of have to for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!