\ ˈlak How to pronounce lack (audio) \
lacked; lacking; lacks

Definition of lack

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to be deficient or missing time is lacking for a full explanation
2 : to be short or have need of something he will not lack for advisers The area does not lack for good restaurants.

transitive verb

: to stand in need of : suffer from the absence or deficiency of lack the necessities of life She lacked confidence.



Definition of lack (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the fact or state of being wanting or deficient a lack of evidence
2 : something that is lacking or is needed

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for lack

Synonyms: Noun

absence, dearth, want

Antonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of lack in a Sentence


His book lacks any coherent structure. They lack a good strategy for winning the election. This painting lacks any artistic value. She has never been accused of lacking confidence. Many of these people lack the basic necessities of life.


The problem is a lack of money. She has been suffering from a lack of sleep lately. Her problem is lack of sleep.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Zerpa on Monday accused Venezuela’s high court of becoming a tool of Maduro’s inner circle, lacking any judicial independence since he and a group of ruling party members were appointed to the bench in 2015. Scott Smith, The Seattle Times, "Venezuela Supreme Court judge flees to US to protest Maduro," 7 Jan. 2019 The Bank of Japan, lacking independence, hesitated to remove the punch bowl when Japan’s party of the century was in full swing. Peter Landers, WSJ, "The Old U.S. Trade War With Japan Looms Over Today’s Dispute With China," 13 Dec. 2018 Rwanda's government has long been accused by rights groups of suppressing the opposition and having a justice system that lacks independence, which the government has denied. Ignatius Ssuuna, Fox News, "Rwanda frees opposition leader, 2,100 others from prison," 15 Sep. 2018 The symphony still lacks a significant endowment, a continuing issue that can’t effectively be addressed until firmer immediate financial footing is found. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, "After a bumpy season, the San Antonio Symphony in a stronger, sunnier place," 3 July 2018 For now, the trial lacks a control group of patients who would not get the visual stimulation, an element generally considered the gold standard in medical research. Rebecca Robbins, STAT, "A daredevil researcher’s latest quest: to restore sight lost to glaucoma using virtual reality," 2 July 2018 Bird has not responded and, according to Hassell’s lawyers, lacks the funds to pay damages. Bob Egelko,, "Yelp does not have to remove users’ posts, California Supreme Court says," 2 July 2018 The performance Saturday lacked substance from the outset, Sporting KC failing to test Montreal keeper Evan Bush in the opening half. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Montreal pitches shut out, ends Sporting KC's nine-game unbeaten streak," 30 June 2018 The ostensible opposition party lacks a clear strategy for the coming legislative midterms, let alone for the incremental grooming of a cohort of jurists to place on the bench two to three decades down the road. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, "Don’t Count on History to Judge Wisely," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Our growing appetite for this information comes from a lack of trust in the global supply chain, fueled by revelations about contamination, fraud, animal welfare and safety-inspection lapses. Robyn Metcalfe, WSJ, "The Life Story of Your Supermarket Chicken: Food Tracking Goes High-Tech," 21 Feb. 2019 But Goose, despite the lack of warplanes, would understand it as the plot of Top Gun. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What Happened When I Trained With Air Force Human Performance Specialists," 12 Feb. 2019 But the problem isn’t necessarily a lack of counter real estate. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "X-tra Counter Space," 11 Feb. 2019 Since a fear of flying can stem from a lack of understanding, learning more about how planes work may help. Jessica Toscano, SELF, "How to Finally Overcome Your Fear of Flying," 31 Jan. 2019 On December 26, the Department of Justice announced that due to lack of funding, immigration court hearings not pertaining to people in detention centers will have to be pushed back. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "5 Ways the Government Shutdown Is Impacting Americans," 3 Jan. 2019 The rest of the store remained full price, assured of its longevity, despite a lack of shoppers. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "The bleak hope of the day-after-Christmas sale," 27 Dec. 2018 The problem, if there is one, certainly comes from Google’s lack of transparency about the change. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Here's a way to help protect your browser from Google Chrome's latest privacy snafu," 24 Sep. 2018 If Japanese monetary policy has been less loose than assumed, the Ministry of Finance should shoulder more blame for the lack of a sustained recovery. Mike Bird, WSJ, "The Myths and Legends of Japan’s 20 Years With Zero Interest Rates," 13 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of lack


12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lack

Noun and Verb

Middle English lak; akin to Middle Dutch lak lack, Old Norse lakr defective

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lack

Statistics for lack

Last Updated

8 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lack

The first known use of lack was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lack



English Language Learners Definition of lack

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to not have (something) : to not have enough of (something)



English Language Learners Definition of lack (Entry 2 of 2)

: the state or condition of not having any or enough of something : the state or condition of lacking something


\ ˈlak How to pronounce lack (audio) \
lacked; lacking

Kids Definition of lack

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to be missing Something is lacking in the soup.
2 : to need or be without something I lack the necessary money.



Kids Definition of lack (Entry 2 of 2)

: the fact or state of not having any or enough of something a lack of time

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lack

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lack

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lack

Spanish Central: Translation of lack

Nglish: Translation of lack for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lack for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lack

Comments on lack

What made you want to look up lack? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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