need·​ful | \ ˈnēd-fəl How to pronounce needful (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from needful


needfully \ ˈnēd-​fə-​lē How to pronounce needfully (audio) \ adverb
needfulness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for needful

Synonyms: Adjective

all-important, critical, essential, imperative, indispensable, integral, must-have, necessary, necessitous, needed, required, requisite, vital

Synonyms: Noun

bread [slang], bucks, cabbage [slang], cash, change, chips, coin, currency, dough, gold, green, jack [slang], kale [slang], legal tender, lolly [British], long green [slang], loot, lucre, money, moola (or moolah) [slang], pelf, scratch [slang], shekels (also sheqels), tender, wampum

Antonyms: Adjective

dispensable, inessential, needless, nonessential, unessential, unnecessary, unneeded

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But convenience, no matter how needful, is not an unrestricted license. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Inching Back toward the Rule of Law," 23 June 2019 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.

See More

First Known Use of needful


1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about needful

Statistics for needful

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for needful

The first known use of needful was in 1614

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for needful



English Language Learners Definition of needful

formal + somewhat old-fashioned : needed or necessary
chiefly US : in a state of needing something


need·​ful | \ ˈnēd-fəl How to pronounce needful (audio) \

Kids Definition of needful

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!