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

And curiously, the two never talk about the Green Book itself — its history, its necessity, its very existence. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Green Book builds a feel-good comedy atop an artifact of shameful segregation. Yikes.," 7 Jan. 2019 Thanks to Harryman’s efforts to build partnerships with the Greater Albany Rotary Club and the Albany Public Schools Foundation, the three have all their dorm necessities covered. Jennifer Moody, The Seattle Times, "Fund helps college students pay for non-tuition essentials," 27 Oct. 2018 Evelyn's support system includes her medial team Visits with doctors have become important for Goins, not just because of their necessity in treating Evelyn's condition, but also for a support system. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "You'd never know this happy-go-lucky 2-year-old has sickle cell anemia. But it's always on her mom's mind.," 11 June 2018 Gaynor, Reagan's opponent in the GOP primary, has also questioned the site's accuracy, as well as its necessity. Dustin Gardiner, azcentral, "Critics hit Michele Reagan over long-running election site delays," 6 June 2018 Gift her with a gorgeous bag that's big enough to fit all of her necessities. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "20 amazing Mother’s Day gifts she’ll actually love," 30 Apr. 2018 But there’s a more adult way to carry your bathroom necessities. Graham Averill, Outside Online, "Our Favorite Dopp Kits for Him and Her," 27 Apr. 2018 Hospitals have long been the exemplar of the old-school model, where bigger is better, evolution is met with suspicion, and more services — regardless of their necessity — mean more lucrative kickbacks from the regulators in charge. Rita E. Numerof, STAT, "Microhospitals and healthplexes offer a peek at the future of health care," 10 Apr. 2018 Touting exclusive, elite brands doesn't track with Spotify's vision of non-exclusivity and its necessity to turn a profit for investors. Cherie Hu, Billboard, "Without Tuma Basa, What Role Will Spotify's Flagship Playlists Play In Its Public Future?," 2 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

22 May 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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Comments on necessity

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