need·​ful | \ˈnēd-fəl \

Definition of needful 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being in need



Definition of needful (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something needed or requisite

2 : money

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Other Words from needful


needfully \ˈnēd-​fə-​lē \ adverb
needfulness noun

Examples of needful in a Sentence


What's most needful now is patience. let's first help the needful families in our own community


fortunately, the family had the needful to stock up the larder before the long hard winter packed a warm jacket and other needfuls for an autumn weekend in the country
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Laid down along a formerly sleepy stretch of Sunset Boulevard, the Village was conceived as a natural and needful extension of the surrounding area—a place where would-be shoppers could meet and mingle. Marley Marius, Vogue, "More Than Half of the Businesses at This California Shopping Center Are Run by Women," 22 Sep. 2018 And yet the poetic vision is the one thing needful to release a spiritual power, indescribably great, for the exaltation of multitudes. New York Times, "Notes From the Book Review Archives," 4 May 2018 In other words, the State of the Union originally helped the executive and legislative branches deliberate, promoting needful legislation and effective administration. Charles Zug, Washington Post, "What happened to the State of the Union address? Originally, it helped the president and Congress deliberate.," 30 Jan. 2018 Some great little loan additions, deep analysis of upcoming opponents and the needful tactical tweaks...but nothing., "6 First Impressions From the Beta Launch of Football Manager 18," 30 Oct. 2017 In his first address to Congress, Bush told several stories to describe the most needful beneficiaries of tax cuts — the working class. David Weigel, Washington Post, "On taxes, George W. Bush sounded more populist than Trump," 30 Aug. 2017 For a more prudent and productive approach, putting an experienced voice for reform and choice at the top of the federal education bureaucracy is a good — and needful — place to start. Orange County Register, "Voice for choice as secretary of education," 18 Jan. 2017

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


1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for needful

Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for needful

The first known use of needful was in 1614

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More Definitions for needful



English Language Learners Definition of needful

: needed or necessary

: in a state of needing something


need·​ful | \ˈnēd-fəl \

Kids Definition of needful

: necessary entry 1 … bring her back, by force, if needful— Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth

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More from Merriam-Webster on needful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with needful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for needful

Spanish Central: Translation of needful

Nglish: Translation of needful for Spanish Speakers

Comments on needful

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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