nec·​es·​sary | \ ˈne-sə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce necessary (audio) \

Definition of necessary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : absolutely needed : required Food is necessary for life.
2a : of an inevitable nature : inescapable Death is a necessary feature of the human condition.
b(1) : logically unavoidable a necessary conclusion
(2) : that cannot be denied without contradiction
c : determined or produced by the previous condition of things the necessary outcome of the affair
d : compulsory Taking the oath of obedience is necessary.


nec·​es·​sary | \ ˈne-sə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce necessary (audio) \
plural necessaries

Definition of necessary (Entry 2 of 2)

: an indispensable item : essential

Examples of necessary in a Sentence

Adjective Some say that Hvorostovsky's Don Giovanni lacks the necessary menace; others find that he tosses his mane about too flamboyantly. — Francine Du Plessix Gray, New Yorker, 22 Sept. 2003 From the very outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual,  … was inseparable from his necessary indignation. — Tom Wolfe, Harper's, June 2000 Our most cataclysmic moments are typically free of gravitas, of necessary thunder; a person dies, but instead of the sky darkening and lightning striking, the sun continues to shine and the birds to sing. — Alain de Botton, Harper's, October 1998 Is it really necessary for me to have surgery? The threat of a thunderstorm made it necessary to cancel the picnic. It's not necessary to wear a tie. Food is necessary for life. We had all the necessary ingredients. She took the medicine only when absolutely necessary. Higher prices are a necessary consequence of the company's new services. Noun "I thoroughly understand you," cried Mrs. Norris, " … My dear Sir Thomas, with all my faults I have a warm heart; and, poor as I am, would rather deny myself the necessaries of life than do an ungenerous thing." — Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814 I took up the two officers in my hands, put them first into my coat-pockets, and then into every other pocket about me, except my two fobs, and another secret pocket I had no mind should be searched, wherein I had some little necessaries that were of no consequence to any but myself. — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, 1726 a modest income that provided the family with only the necessaries of life See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective First, Fed officials kept their easy money policies of near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing for over a year more than was necessary after the pandemic. Will Daniel, Fortune, 18 June 2022 Of course, short term remedies are necessary, including for those in positions of influence to condemn the evil and law enforcement’s obligation to hold the perpetrators to account. Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2022 Disney-Pixar grooms viewers toward identity politics through diversity casting, which shouldn’t be necessary, especially since Lightyear imitates the action-film genre that has always been integrated and multiracial. Armond White, National Review, 17 June 2022 Opening a line of communication between your team's leaders and its customers will help you to make any changes that may be necessary and ultimately expand your client base. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Training is necessary for proper mermaiding, says Ms. Hawk, the Maryland mermaid. Liyan Qi, WSJ, 17 June 2022 That's because without Roe in effect, Wisconsin will revert to an 1849 law that prohibits doctors from performing abortions except in cases where the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life. Devi Shastri, Journal Sentinel, 17 June 2022 For Helms, the exaggerated nature of Nathan’s meltdown was necessary for the continuation of the character’s relationships. Selome Hailu, Variety, 17 June 2022 Economic history suggests, though, that aggressive, growth-killing rate hikes could be necessary to finally control inflation. Paul Wiseman, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Yet its location on a critical trade route through the Strait of Gibraltar and the challenge of Barbary pirates in the vicinity made a more official presence for the American necessary. Graham Cornwell, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2021 Tramontana trotted downstairs, grabbed the necessaries and made the carbonara — but the experience lingered. Amy Drew Thompson,, 11 Oct. 2019 Everyday necessaries such as Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco have missed time, too. Paul Daugherty,, 13 June 2019 The large, refrigerated trailer has fruits, veggies and meat — the necessaries that make up a balanced diet. Ben Brazil,, 10 May 2018 Everyday necessaries such as Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco have missed time, too. Paul Daugherty,, 13 June 2019 The large, refrigerated trailer has fruits, veggies and meat — the necessaries that make up a balanced diet. Ben Brazil,, 10 May 2018 Across the way, a 10-year-old mucks out a stall, taking on all the necessaries in caring for her calf. Sharon Hoffmann And Dan Kelly, kansascity, 13 July 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of necessary


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for necessary

Adjective and Noun

Middle English necessarie, from Latin necessarius, from necesse necessary, probably from ne- not + cedere to withdraw — more at no

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Time Traveler for necessary

Time Traveler

The first known use of necessary was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near necessary



necessary condition

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Necessary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for necessary


nec·​es·​sary | \ ˈne-sə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce necessary (audio) \

Kids Definition of necessary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: needing to be had or done : essential Food is necessary to life. I got the necessary work done first.

Other Words from necessary

necessarily \ ˌne-​sə-​ˈser-​ə-​lē \ adverb


plural necessaries

Kids Definition of necessary (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is needed We left a good stock of … medicines, and some other necessaries— Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

More from Merriam-Webster on necessary

Nglish: Translation of necessary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of necessary for Arabic Speakers


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