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.


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 Potassium is also necessary for healthy nerve function and regulation of heart rate. Good Housekeeping, 16 Sep. 2022 That is, the jargon is necessary for technical precision. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 15 Sep. 2022 It’s not yet clear if the inclusion of the religious liberty language will secure the remaining six GOP votes necessary for passage. Time, 15 Sep. 2022 While items like toys, bowls, litter, poop bags and leashes are often necessary for your pet, looking at their durability, supply chains and whether they can be recycled is equally as important as the product itself. Kimberly Richardson, CNN, 15 Sep. 2022 Other doctors are much more conservative, suggesting that the devices aren’t even necessary for all diabetes patients — only those on insulin., 14 Sep. 2022 As MacRumors points out, Launchify does have an in-app subscription that is necessary for adding more than one widget to the Lock Screen. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 13 Sep. 2022 Neither party is likely to gain in the midterm elections the number of seats necessary for a filibuster-proof majority. Amy B Wang And Caroline Kitchener, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Sep. 2022 It’s not really necessary for someone who doesn't want to target wrinkles or fine lines, or anyone on a tight budget. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 13 Sep. 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

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Necessary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 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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