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

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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, "The Artists Dismantling the Barriers Between Rap and Poetry," 4 Mar. 2021 Oxfam exhorts its supporters to send things to the needful Cratchits of the developing world. Matthew Sweet, The Economist, "The secret economics of Christmas adverts, unwrapped," 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, "Gordon Monson: Bill Marcroft’s voice is one to remember," 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, "Cancel Culture Is Not the Problem; Conformity Culture Is," 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, "Pandemic Journal, March 17–22," 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, "‘Real Life,’ by Brandon Taylor: An Excerpt," 18 Feb. 2020 Within this needful drama, though, there are plenty of light touches. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Conservative Pride of The Lion King," 11 July 2019 Or not being able to provide something immediately needful to your children. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Elizabeth Warren Is Wrong about Payday Lenders," 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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Time Traveler for needful

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The first known use of needful was in 1614

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Last Updated

14 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Needful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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

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