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ˈməst How to pronounce must (audio)
present tense and past tense, all persons must

auxiliary verb

: be commanded or requested to
you must stop
: be urged to : ought by all means to
you must read that book
: be compelled by physical necessity to
one must eat to live
: be required by immediate or future need or purpose to
we must hurry to catch the bus
: be obliged to : be compelled by social considerations to
I must say you're looking well
: be required by law, custom, or moral conscience (see conscience sense 1) to
we must obey the rules
: be determined to
if you must go at least wait for me
: be unreasonably or perversely compelled to
why must you argue
: be logically inferred (see infer sense 1) or supposed to
it must be time
: be compelled by fate or by natural law to
what must be will be
: was or were presumably certain to : was or were bound to
if he did it she must have known
dialect : may, shall
used chiefly in questions

intransitive verb

archaic : to be obliged to go
I must to CoventryWilliam Shakespeare


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noun (1)

: an imperative need or duty : requirement
: an indispensable item : essential
exercise is a must


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noun (2)

: the expressed juice of fruit and especially grapes before and during fermentation
also : the pulp and skins of the crushed grapes


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noun (3)

Examples of must in a Sentence

Verb we must be quiet during the performance
Recent Examples on the Web
Regular, consistent communication is a must in a remote work environment. Niki Jorgensen, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 While the specific requirements vary from state to state, gaining practical, hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA is usually a must. Bryce Welker, Miami Herald, 19 Feb. 2024 Florals, naturally, are a must, as are gingham prints and French tips. Audrey Noble, Vogue, 16 Feb. 2024 There are three airboat companies that operate in the park, and Gantt says cruising through the Everglades on a flat-bottomed boat is a must during your visit. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 4 Feb. 2024 Of course, positive chemistry between the two romantic leads is always a must in any tale, and Roy and Ahmady display a believable and smooth connection. Rick Mauch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1 Feb. 2024 Collaborative planning can go a long way, and partnering with our internal departments, the city and other counties is a must. Charlotte Observer, 8 Feb. 2024 Coastal redwoods are simply magnificent, so spending time in their mighty presence is a must. Chelsee Lowe, Travel + Leisure, 5 Feb. 2024 What to see and do The Anne of Green Gables Museum at the picturesque Campbell Homestead is a must for fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 novel, and those who love a good story alongside some history. Yasemen Kaner-White, theweek, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'must.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to

Noun (2)

Middle English, from Old English, from Latin mustum

Noun (3)

Middle English (Scots) moist, from Middle French must, alteration of musc musk

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (1)

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of must was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near must

Cite this Entry

“Must.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 helping verb
məs(t) How to pronounce must (audio)
present & past all persons must
: is commanded, requested, or urged to
the train must stop
you must read that book
: is forced, required, or obliged to
leaves must fall
one must eat to live
we must be quiet
: is determined to
if you must go
: is very likely to
it must be time
must have lost it
: is certain to
the bus must be coming


2 of 2 noun
: something required or absolutely necessary
new shoes are a must

Medical Definition


: the expressed juice of fruit and especially grapes before and during fermentation

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