\ 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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Judge Yelena Kaneva of the Lefortovsky District Court eventually summoned an ambulance crew, who examined Whelan and said there was no need to treat him. Will Englund, Washington Post, "American held in Russia on suspicion of being a spy sent back to jail for another two months," 23 Aug. 2019 More significantly, the sharp rollback proposed for CAFE was not embraced by the auto industry — even though carmakers had questioned whether there might be a need for a more modest rollback in the Obama-era guidelines. NBC News, "Trump attacks Ford for not supporting his rollback of Obama-era climate change protections," 22 Aug. 2019 Scale the world’s highest climbing wall in Reno, Nevada There's no need to head into the wilderness to test your rock-climbing skills. Larry Bleiberg, USA TODAY, "10 great accessible adventures for ordinary travelers, from whitewater rafting to ziplines," 22 Aug. 2019 There is a pressing need to quickly and effectively resolve this problem. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "Trump signs order to expedite forgiving student loan debt for disabled veterans," 21 Aug. 2019 Perhaps nowhere is both the need—and progress—more evident than where Rabinowitz’s work first began: Belize. Steve Winter, National Geographic, "The struggle to protect a vital jaguar corridor," 21 Aug. 2019 Among the new followers, at least 8% need to come from North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "China’s propaganda machine is spending over $1 million to buy influence on foreign social media," 21 Aug. 2019 The entire narrative is visible in your feed; there is no need to click on a link. Claire Wardle, Scientific American, "Misinformation Has Created a New World Disorder," 20 Aug. 2019 The choreography is creatively brutal, and most of the main cast members have at least some martial arts training and do their own fighting, so there's no need for Iron Fist-style creative editing. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Fight scenes are the only bright spot in grim, joyless Wu Assassins," 19 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bennett has set high standards for himself, and Santo will need him to return to those heights with the club hoping to move up the table and towards the European spots., "Wolves Premier League Month in Review: August - Best Player, Worst Performance & Overall Rating," 8 Sep. 2019 Murray can’t do it all, and the Cardinals don’t need him to Week 1. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals: Here's what Lions must do to start 1-0," 6 Sep. 2019 The plan encourages the use of insect-friendly lights of certain wavelengths, along with motion detectors that turn on outdoor lights only when they are needed. Gretchen Vogel, Science | AAAS, "€100 million German insect protection plan will protect habitats, restrict weed killers, and boost research," 6 Sep. 2019 One reason that blue and white porcelain has lasted the test of time is that the blue cobalt pigment can withstand the highest firing temperatures that are needed for porcelain. Elizabeth Pash, House Beautiful, "What to Look for When Shopping for Blue and White Porcelain," 6 Sep. 2019 Most people don’t need nor want this much food, and for those diners, there are the more modest and refined ceviches, arepas and proteins. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "Restaurant Review: Los Parceros, the tiny East Colfax Colombian restaurant with a big arepa menu," 5 Sep. 2019 Thankfully, even though her car was totaled, Nora was relatively unscathed and just needed a few stitches. Savvy Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, Scientific American, "How to Conquer Your Fear of Driving," 4 Sep. 2019 Three different hospital ships are also within a few days sailing of the island, should they be needed. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian, "Hurricane Dorian Batters the Bahamas Before Barreling Along the U.S. Coast," 4 Sep. 2019 So similarly, Newman needs 54 points with a repeat winner or someone already qualified or a top finish that’s better than the other drivers in this category. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Breaking down NASCAR's playoff drivers, from who's in to final clinch scenarios," 4 Sep. 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.

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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

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Statistics for need

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for need

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

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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.

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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 make a temporary encampment

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