\ˈnēd \

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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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

Western officers talk of the need for a long-term commitment to train, equip and assist local forces, and to give them air support when needed. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 Police previously declined to provide details on the incident, citing the need to provide evidence at trial. Talia Richman,, "'I only ever wanted justice,' says 18-year-old allegedly assaulted by Baltimore officer," 14 July 2018 This need not presage a darker time, like Rome’s withdrawal from Britain, but more will be required of the world’s other free countries. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 Allegiances to the Dallas Cowboys aside, many other Twitter users piped in simply to point out that people who work within an airport need to go through security every day just to arrive at their jobs. The Heat Index, azcentral, "EX-NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino roasted on Twitter over airport worker Tweet," 13 July 2018 And in many ways McGruder is what the Heat need at the back of the rotation at shooting guard, a three-and-D player with a cost-effective $1.5 million salary. Ira Winderman,, "With Ellington back, how do Heat manage glut at shooting guard?," 13 July 2018 If need be, first responders could theoretically construct their own detection devices on the fly using this breakthrough. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018 The district first began assessing improvement needs in April of 2015, according to the news release. Nicole Aimone, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha School Board approves $60 million referendum for district-wide facility improvment," 13 July 2018 Rajiv Goel, another board member, said Schneider instilled in him what is possible and the need to plan proactively. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "A visionary volunteer steps away from leading Harford's hospitals," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Zachary Barnes was looking for a summer internship to finish remaining credits needed for his journalism degree at Michigan State University before heading home to San Diego to begin his career. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, "MSU-led internship program helps Detroit move forward," 14 July 2018 Two years ago, lawmakers required utilities to make big purchases of offshore wind electricity and hydropower, and the critics say the state needs more time to let that legislation take effect. Jon Chesto,, "Mass. lawmakers wrap up work on energy legislation," 13 July 2018 So much has been said about the Chicago Fire's roster needs ahead of the MLS's secondary transfer window. Juan Pimiento,, "Ronaldo's shock transfer, the World Cup semis and the best of the week in soccer," 12 July 2018 The global director of diversity at Facebook, Maxine Williams, says the company needs to invest in local communities in order to become more diverse. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Facebook's diversity efforts failing African-American and Hispanic women," 12 July 2018 And there are also fewer conflicts in the world and less sort of external violence and need for defense: Ever since the end of the Cold War there’s been less need of unified-alliance defensive efforts. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Is It Fair for Trump to Bash NATO Over Military Spending?," 12 July 2018 All the things needed to be a good defensive mid in this league. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City midfielder Cam Lindley called up for 2018 MLS Homegrown Game," 12 July 2018 Who says a love triangle needs to be settled by a show's fifth season?, "Is Younger Setting The Stage For A Liza-Josh Reunion?," 11 July 2018 The researchers are blunt about what would be needed for nuclear to be ready by then. David Roberts, Vox, "The US is rapidly losing nuclear power. That’s profoundly concerning for climate change.," 11 July 2018

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


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


see need entry 1

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Statistics for need

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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)


\ˈnēd \
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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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