1 of 2


nec·​es·​sary ˈne-sə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce necessary (audio)
: absolutely needed : required
Food is necessary for life.
: of an inevitable nature : inescapable
Death is a necessary feature of the human condition.
: logically unavoidable
a necessary conclusion
: that cannot be denied without contradiction
: determined or produced by the previous condition of things
the necessary outcome of the affair
: compulsory
Taking the oath of obedience is necessary.


2 of 2


plural necessaries
: 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
Recent Examples on the Web
One of the constants of Taylor Swift’s storied career has been the chances she’s taken at the precise moment when taking a chance wasn’t necessary. Jason Lipshutz, Billboard, 19 Apr. 2024 The lane closure on I-71 north between the Norwood Lateral and the Red Bank Expressway was necessary for construction workers to have safe access to their work. The Enquirer, 19 Apr. 2024 No purchase is necessary, and coffee lovers can find the one-time offer exclusively in the myRewards Plus app. Tanasia Kenney, Sacramento Bee, 19 Apr. 2024 The Israel measure also includes more than $9.1 billion to address Palestinian humanitarian needs, which Democrats said was necessary for their support. Jaala Brown, Caitlin Yilek, CBS News, 19 Apr. 2024 No purchase is necessary for the sweepstakes, which is open only to legal residents of all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Emily Deletter, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2024 This strategy is necessary because advancing in the workplace without colleague support is not easy, as research shows. Keyaira Boone, Essence, 18 Apr. 2024 But there are a lot of discussions about radio orchestras in Europe, about whether this is still necessary, whether this should still exist, whether these should still be supported. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2024 But now big, sweeping changes are necessary — from both a fiscal and basketball sense — this upcoming, long offseason. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 17 Apr. 2024
Blakely has been charged with capital murder, while Washington is charged with child deprivation of necessaries with substantial harm. Warren Kulo |, al, 19 Apr. 2023 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 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

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

Word History


Adjective and Noun

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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near necessary

Cite this Entry

“Necessary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
nec·​es·​sary ˈnes-ə-ˌser-ē How to pronounce necessary (audio)
: going to happen with no way of preventing it : inescapable
tests are a necessary part of school
: being the only logically possible result
a necessary conclusion
: being required : mandatory
it is necessary to attend all practices
: absolutely needed : essential
food is necessary for life


2 of 2 noun
plural necessaries
: something necessary : requirement
the necessaries of life


Middle English necessarie "necessary, required," derived from Latin necesse "necessary, unavoidable," from ne- "not" and cedere "to go, go away" — related to concede, succeed

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