\ 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

The reason for starting the program FOTE's advisory committee has expressed a need for the program. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Three things you should know about a new autism technician program that could be coming to Waukesha County Technical College," 12 July 2019 This also demonstrates how Bureau personnel personalize the services of their agency to the needs of the individual. Hermine Saunders,, "Saunders: Bureau of Aging & Disabilities best kept secret service in Carroll County," 12 July 2019 But an artificial fecal transplant also would come to market gifted with the exclusivity guaranteed by FDA approval and patents, and burdened with a need to recoup millions in investment. Maryn Mckenna, WIRED, "The Death of a Patient and the Future of Fecal Transplants," 11 July 2019 To benefit from the program, students must be residents of Texas; be full-time, first-time undergraduates; maintain a 2.0 GPA; and demonstrate a financial need. Tara Law, Time, "University of Texas-Austin Greatly Expands Its Free Tuition Program Assisting Low and Middle-Income Students," 11 July 2019 The state’s governor and attorney general came out against the face-scanning software, citing a need to balance public safety with residents’ privacy rights. Drew Harwell, Twin Cities, "FBI, ICE use driver license photos without owners’ knowledge or consent," 9 July 2019 Denver entered the offseason wanting to fortify its frontcourt, and Monday’s trade with Oklahoma City met a significant need. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets president Tim Connelly on trade: Jerami Grant “a guy we’ve always coveted”," 9 July 2019 Following the day out on the green, the evening portion of the event featured dinner and speeches, a live auction and fund-a-need. Coast Magazine, Orange County Register, "Golfers deliver for Goodwill of Orange County’s veterans event," 8 July 2019 Bhagavatula says, adding that there’s a need for more high-quality training institutions to set shop in Africa. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Top American universities are doubling down on their presence across Africa," 5 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But in interviews, D’Arcy has focused squarely on the gas plants, arguing that Garcetti needs to reverse his decision and warning that a shutdown will pose a series of problems. Sammy Roth,, "Those ads ripping Garcetti on homelessness? They’re about fighting his Green New Deal," 14 July 2019 Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology warned of more troubles ahead for the southern region near the main rivers, urging people to keep watch on rising water levels and move to higher ground when needed. Binaj Gurubacharya,, "Heavy rain leaves scores dead in Nepal, India, Bangladesh," 14 July 2019 Even this little cushion can mean the difference between paying your bills on time and needing to lean on credit cards, auto-title loans and other high-cost forms of borrowing. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "After a decade of expanding economy, are you better off?," 14 July 2019 Myles Straw, who spoiled an earlier scoring opportunity by getting picked off, came through with an RBI-single the Astros would need to edge out a 7-6 win Saturday at Globe Life Park. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Astros hang on to defeat Rangers in 11 innings," 14 July 2019 This is the part that the public needs to understand, particularly for some of these kids who appear to be settling into the institutional settings. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How the Stress of Separation and Detention Changes the Lives of Children," 13 July 2019 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacked Murat Cetinkaya, the governor of the country’s central bank, and suggested that the institution needs an overhaul. The Economist, "Business this week," 13 July 2019 Pippa arrived alongside her sister Kate, who is a patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and needed to arrive early in order to carry out her official duties. Maria Pasquini,, "Royal Trio! Pippa Middleton Joins Kate & Meghan Markle at Wimbledon for First Outing Together," 13 July 2019 Zoi House has its master plans approved and still needs final approval from the city council in hopes of starting construction early next year. Ryan Gillespie,, "Downtown Orlando could be going up, as towering Vertical Medical City moves forward in North Quarter," 12 July 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

16 Jul 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

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characterized by aphorism

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