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

Other Words from needful


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for needful

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of needful in a Sentence

Adjective What's most needful now is patience. let's first help the needful families in our own community Noun 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 For Queen and other Black poets, hip-hop is not only beats and rhymes but something more needful. Adam Bradley, New York Times, 4 Mar. 2021 Oxfam exhorts its supporters to send things to the needful Cratchits of the developing world. Matthew Sweet, The Economist, 4 Dec. 2020 McBride was touched by the way, in their later years, Marcroft was the primary caregiver for Joyce, who had become needful of that care. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Nov. 2020 Many proponents of critical race theory — whose animating idea is that race is the one thing needful, the single lens through which all other phenomena should be viewed — are indeed trying to compel compliance. Greg Weiner, National Review, 10 Sep. 2020 Soon we may be pressed into other kinds of service—adult medicine, or ICU medicine, or whatever is most needful. Anastasia Edel, The New York Review of Books, 22 Mar. 2020 Vincent had pushed his sunglasses back across his forehead, which made his face seem small, like that of a needful pet. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2020 Within this needful drama, though, there are plenty of light touches. Kyle Smith, National Review, 11 July 2019 Or not being able to provide something immediately needful to your children. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 26 Sep. 2019

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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The first known use of needful was in 1614

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Cite this Entry

“Needful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for needful



English Language Learners Definition of needful

: needed or necessary
: in a state of needing something : needy


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

More from Merriam-Webster on needful

Nglish: Translation of needful for Spanish Speakers


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