necessity

noun
ne·​ces·​si·​ty | \ ni-ˈse-sə-tē How to pronounce necessity (audio) , -ˈse-stē\
plural necessities

Definition of necessity

1 : the quality or state of being necessary He questioned the necessity for the change.
2a : pressure of circumstance The plane was compelled by necessity to change its course.
b : physical or moral compulsion did it, not because he wanted to, but by necessity
c : impossibility of a contrary order or condition submittimg to the necessity imposed by the physical laws of the universe
3 : the quality or state of being in need especially : poverty had come to help them in their necessity
4a : something that is necessary : requirement Many families could not afford the bare necessities of life.
b : an urgent need or desire When his father collapsed, an ambulance became a necessity.
of necessity
: in such a way that it cannot be otherwise also : as a necessary consequence further changes will occur of necessity

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of necessity in a Sentence

Sunscreen is an absolute necessity for the beach. food, clothes, and other basic necessities Getting plenty of rest is a necessity. Without a car, living close to work is a necessity. All we took with us on our hiking trip were the bare necessities.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The problem, by necessity, will require compromise from both sides. CBS News, "Odessa shooting survivor: Congress, do something," 8 Sep. 2019 And by necessity, in order to become mainstream, a word must cross racial and cultural divides. Alec Dent, National Review, "The Natural Evolution of Language Is Not ‘Cultural Appropriation’," 3 Sep. 2019 Angie is a working-class girl who is forced by financial necessity to become an expert in making the party drug Ecstasy in the chemistry lab at her prestigious West Coast university. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 By necessity, Chick-fil-A has become the #1 traffic control expert in the country and is thankfully in talks to soon manage the parking lot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. Leslie Anne Tarabella, al, "The test of the sandwich," 27 Aug. 2019 Every household in the United States, every governor in the United States, as Mr. McIntosh knows, has to balance the budget by constitution or by necessity. NBC News, "Meet the Press - August 25, 2019," 25 Aug. 2019 On kick returns, RB Devontae Booker might as well be the choice out of necessity. 10. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "10 takeaways from Broncos’ 10-6 preseason loss to Rams," 25 Aug. 2019 Today Trump fawns over Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mohammed bin Salman and other thugs, driven less by realpolitik necessity than by personal affinity. New York Times, "Democracy in Crisis," 15 June 2019 By necessity, most POCs have had to be bicultural and aware of white culture. Marcus Harrison Green, The Seattle Times, "Seattle yoga teacher’s ‘Undoing Whiteness’ class: Founded on deep purpose, it’s triggered outrage," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'necessity.' 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 necessity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for necessity

Middle English necessite, from Anglo-French necessité, from Latin necessitat-, necessitas, from necesse

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about necessity

Statistics for necessity

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for necessity

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for necessity

necessity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of necessity

: something that you must have or do : something that is necessary
formal : the quality of being necessary

necessity

noun
ne·​ces·​si·​ty | \ ni-ˈse-sə-tē How to pronounce necessity (audio) \
plural necessities

Kids Definition of necessity

1 : the state of things that forces certain actions The necessity of eating forced her to work.
2 : very great need Call us for help in case of necessity.
3 : the state of being in need : poverty I am forced by necessity to beg.
4 : something that is badly needed He bought a few necessities before his trip.

necessity

noun
ne·​ces·​si·​ty
plural necessities

Legal Definition of necessity

1a : the presence or pressure of circumstances that justify or compel a certain course of action especially : a need to respond or react to a dangerous situation by committing a criminal act
b : an affirmative defense originating in common law that the defendant had to commit a criminal act because of the pressure of a situation that threatened a harm greater than that resulting from the act — see also choice of evils defense at defense sense 2a — compare duress, undue influence
2 : something that is necessary especially to subsistence obligated to provide the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on necessity

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

WORD OF THE DAY

recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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