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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Whether their makers can turn them into necessities is the new billion-dollar question. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "It Is Prime Time for Smartwatches," 6 Mar. 2019 These closures range from the Smithsonian to the Internal Revenue Service and many people are now struggling to figure out how to afford basic necessities like rent, bills, and groceries. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "5 Ways the Government Shutdown Is Impacting Americans," 3 Jan. 2019 Though born out of necessity, Marty's interest in cooking soon became a treasured hobby. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "How Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Late Husband, Marty, Helped Her Reach Her Potential," 23 Feb. 2019 This education, passed down from one generation to the next, was partially born of the necessity to try, often unsuccessfully, to find products that worked for darker complexions. Carmen Maria Machado, Vogue, "A New Generation is Taking on L.A.’s Latinx Beauty Rituals," 13 Feb. 2019 The revelation that self-care isn’t a luxury, but a necessity (for everybody, not only those who misuse alcohol and other drugs) was life-changing. Claire Gillespie, Glamour, "Self-Care Only Worked for Me When I Got Sober," 22 Dec. 2018 Just days after convincing me that a puffer jacket/dress combo is a fashion necessity, the star of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald served a fashion and beauty tribute to Hedwig the Owl. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ezra Miller Used Glitter and a Feather-Covered Top to Dress as Hedwig at the “Fantastic Beasts” Premiere," 13 Nov. 2018 Some of that was due to necessity, some of it because players left high school early to arrive a semester early to college, and some was due to freshmen who didn’t enroll early being allowed on campus earlier in the summer. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State mailbag: Tracking football breakout candidates," 24 Apr. 2018 If this is an absolute necessity, can it be bought for less elsewhere? Gary M. Singer, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Ask a real estate pro: Do I really need an owner’s title insurance policy?," 16 Mar. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for necessity

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for necessity

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

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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

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