\ ˈnēd How to pronounce need (audio) \

Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : necessary duty : obligation no need to apologize the need to pay taxes— Peter Scott
2a : a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful a building adequate for the company's needs
b : a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism health and education needs
3 : a condition requiring supply or relief The house is in need of repair. refugees in need of shelter and food
4 : lack of the means of subsistence (see subsistence sense 2) : poverty The community program provides for those in need.


needed; needing; needs or (auxiliary) need

Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to be needful or necessary
2 : to be in want

transitive verb

: to be in need of : require

auxiliary verb

: be under necessity or obligation to you need not answer she need only wait

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for need

Synonyms: Noun

absence, lack, needfulness, want

Synonyms: Verb

bear, challenge, claim, demand, necessitate, require, take, want, warrant

Antonyms: Verb

have, hold

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of need in a Sentence


You can always call me at home if the need arises. These new methods reduce the need to use harmful chemicals on crops. We find that there is still a need for further discussion. There is a great need for change. Our experienced staff will go out of their way to meet your every need. He has trouble expressing his emotional needs. I felt a need to take control of the situation. a need to be loved She has an overwhelming need to be liked and respected. I don't feel the need to defend my decision.


I need some advice. What do you think of this dress? I just need a couple of minutes to get ready. Most babies need at least 12 hours of sleep a day. We badly need a vacation. Further research is urgently needed if we are to find a cure. Another delay is the last thing I need! Men? Who needs them?! I certainly don't.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Capitalist economies reward people for meeting the needs of others—their customers. Andy Puzder, WSJ, "Faster Growth Is Paying Off for Low-Skilled Workers," 13 June 2019 Some 300 plus people, ranging from Chicago Archdiocese Cardinal Blasé Cupich down to young children who had never before in their lives handled a hammer, spent some time last weekend building a new house that will be given to someone in need. Gregory Tejeda, Daily Southtown, "Cardinal, kids among 300 members of seven Southland churches who helped build home for family in need," 13 June 2019 Each month volunteers gather to cut, sew and assemble pajama kits to provide pajamas to those in need. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Avid bowler marks 100th birthday at bowling alley," 13 June 2019 The course asked students to visualize King streets that echoed his values—racially integrated, thriving and peaceful, economically stable, with commerce that meets the needs of nearby residents. Wendi C. Thomas, National Geographic, "Where the Streets Have MLK's Name," 12 June 2019 In this fashion there is a sort of democratic euphoria that may do the light book a service but will hardly meet the needs of a serious work. Elizabeth Hardwick, Harper's magazine, "Literary Failure," 10 June 2019 The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing an unexpected challenge in meeting the needs of the many people affected by this spring’s widespread flooding and violent storms: a strong economy. Washington Post, "Strong job market hampers FEMA hiring in flood-hit states," 9 June 2019 The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing an unexpected challenge in meeting the needs of the many people affected by this spring’s widespread flooding and violent storms: a strong economy. Grant Schulte, The Denver Post, "Strong job market hampers FEMA hiring in flood-hit states," 9 June 2019 Efforts in the wolf plan to evaluate depredations and prevent them fail to meet the Governor’s expectations for ensuring the health of the wolf population while also meeting the needs of the ranching community., "Governor, environmental groups rip Oregon’s new wolf plan," 8 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Philosophy was either born once, or born three times, or didn’t need to be born at all. Peter Adamson, The New York Review of Books, "What Was Philosophy?," 17 June 2019 Many of its customers do not need to place orders for additional jets right now. Victoria Cavaliere, CNN, "Boeing CEO reportedly disappointed by communications over 737 Max, vows to be more transparent," 16 June 2019 Either way, global furor over the proposal has proved a headache China’s central authorities didn’t need. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Hong Kong's About Face," 15 June 2019 But the Dodgers may not need to get hung up on specifics. Andy Mccullough,, "Will Dodgers’ bullpen doom title hopes? ‘We’re going to figure it out’," 15 June 2019 What’s interesting is that most of us don’t actually need a Streep to do it. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "The View From 5-Foot-3 (and a Half)," 15 June 2019 There is not a single person in this world that doesn’t need the foundational love and support of their parent. Joelle Goldstein,, "Man Offers 'Free Dad Hugs' at Pride Parade and Says the Positive Response Is 'Humbling' But 'Sad'," 14 June 2019 An egg doesn’t need to be laid by a quail or a duck to be luxurious. Bee Wilson, WSJ, "True Luxury in Food Doesn’t Cost a Fortune," 14 June 2019 The company needs to bring more brands from its global portfolio to India, said Thakur. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "A 200-year-old British consumer goods giant is banking on an Indian for growth," 14 June 2019

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for need

Noun and Verb

Middle English ned, from Old English nīed, nēd; akin to Old High German nōt distress, need, Old Prussian nautin need

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about need

Dictionary Entries near need








Statistics for need

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for need

The first known use of need was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for need



English Language Learners Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a situation in which someone or something must do or have something
: something that a person must have : something that is needed in order to live or succeed or be happy
: a strong feeling that you must have or do something



English Language Learners Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be in a condition or situation in which you must have (something) : to require (something)
used to say that some action is necessary usually followed by to + verb
used to say that it is important and necessary for someone to do something followed by to + verb


\ ˈnēd How to pronounce need (audio) \
needed; needing

Kids Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to suffer from the lack of something important to life or health Give to those who need.
2 : to be necessary Something needs to be done.
3 : to be without : require I need advice. He bought what he needed.



Kids Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that must be done : obligation An electrician understands the need to be careful.
2 : a lack of something necessary, useful, or desired After losing his job, he was in great need.
3 : something necessary or desired Our daily needs are few.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on need

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with need

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for need

Spanish Central: Translation of need

Nglish: Translation of need for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of need for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about need

Comments on need

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


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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