necessity

noun
ne·​ces·​si·​ty | \ ni-ˈse-sə-tē, -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

Cars are an inescapable necessity in Motor City, a 140-square-mile expanse lacking robust public transportation. The Economist, "Why Detroit is the most expensive city in America to buy car insurance," 5 July 2018 Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. Thomas Jefferson Et Al, Cincinnati.com, "The United States Declaration of Independence," 4 July 2018 Belgium knows how to assert itself; Russia is rugged by necessity against more talented opponents; and Croatia’s silkily skilled midfield is backed up by defenders unafraid to channel their inner goon on occasion. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "The World Cup is getting seriously dirty now," 4 July 2018 Even if your squad is going away for the whole weekend, making time for a massive co-ed sleepover is a necessity. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "7 Super Fun Things You Need on Your Prom Checklist For the Best Night Ever," 24 Dec. 2018 In a divided government, when compromise was a necessity, Alexander thrived. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Lamar Alexander, pillar of Washington’s old guard, is retiring from the Senate," 17 Dec. 2018 Lunch is a necessity, though, and packing one myself is definitely cheaper than going out to buy something midday. Christine Byrne, SELF, "7 Easy No-Cook Lunch Ideas You Can Pack for Work," 7 May 2018 Part of this is less a comment on the failure of the film to capture everyone’s distinctive personalities, as much as it a necessity of making a 150-minute film with so many characters. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "The 'Avengers' Stars Shortchanged in 'Infinity War'," 27 Apr. 2018 Tweet deletion is no longer a matter of curation, but a necessity. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "The year of deleted tweets," 27 Dec. 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.

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

16 Jan 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

: the quality of being necessary

necessity

noun
ne·​ces·​si·​ty | \ ni-ˈse-sə-tē \
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

to settle judicially or to act as judge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!