\ ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio) also ˈwänt How to pronounce want (audio) and ˈwənt \
wanted; wanting; wants

Definition of want

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to be needy or destitute
2 : to have or feel need never wants for friends
3 : to be necessary or needed
4 : to desire to come, go, or be the cat wants in wants out of the deal

transitive verb

1 : to fail to possess especially in customary or required amount : lack the answer wanted courtesy
2a : to have a strong desire for wanted a chance to rest
b : to have an inclination to : like say what you want, he is efficient
3a : to have need of : require the motor wants a tune-up
b : to suffer from the lack of thousands still want food and shelter
4 : ought used with the infinitive you want to be very careful what you say— Claudia Cassidy
5 : to wish or demand the presence of
6 : to hunt or seek in order to apprehend wanted for murder



Definition of want (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : deficiency, lack suffers from a want of good sense
b : grave and extreme poverty that deprives one of the necessities of life
2 : something wanted : need, desire
3 : personal defect : fault

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Choose the Right Synonym for want


desire, wish, want, crave, covet mean to have a longing for. desire stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim. desires to start a new life wish sometimes implies a general or transient longing especially for the unattainable. wishes for permanent world peace want specifically suggests a felt need or lack. wants to have a family crave stresses the force of physical appetite or emotional need. craves sweets covet implies strong envious desire. covets his rise to fame


poverty, indigence, penury, want, destitution mean the state of one with insufficient resources. poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts. the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances. the indigence of her years as a graduate student penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money. a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure. lived in a perpetual state of want the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine

Examples of want in a Sentence

Verb Do you want more coffee? He wants a bicycle for his birthday. I just wanted a chance to rest. She wanted more time to finish the test. Do you want anything from the store? What do you want for Christmas? You can choose whichever color you want. The motor wants a tune-up. Thousands of poor people still want food and shelter. Tell him that the teacher wants him. Noun His attitude shows a want of proper respect. He is suffering from want of adequate sleep. people who are living in want
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Most of those minutes were played before the Bulls acquired Vučević at the trade deadline, but Donovan did not want all of the scoring load to fall on his new All-Star. Jamal Collier, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Bulls begin extended stretch without All-Star guard Zach LaVine with 126-115 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies: ‘This is another curveball these guys have to deal with’," 17 Apr. 2021 Who wouldn’t want to go to work in an office with a gigantic futuristic greenhouse, or to choose from over 30 eateries for your lunch break? Ashley Stahl, Forbes, "The Future Of Offices And Workspaces, Post-Pandemic," 16 Apr. 2021 Imagine believing your coach would want a record-breaking back from Oklahoma. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Gregg Pruitt: Rejected by his coach, hid on a golf course on draft day – Terry Pluto," 16 Apr. 2021 What lucky theoretical groupie in 1975 wouldn’t want to be wooed thusly? Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, "Greta Van Fleet Erect a Cathedral of Neo-Zeppelin Overkill on ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’," 16 Apr. 2021 The National Police Association's Smith also questioned who would want to become a police officer now amid pushes in several states to end qualified immunity. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, "Daunte Wright shooting: Is progressive push putting due process in jeopardy?," 16 Apr. 2021 For ticket holders who are not okay with this, and don't want to wait the extra year, the band noted that refunds are available. Jolie Lash, EW.com, "My Chemical Romance postpones their reunion tour yet again," 16 Apr. 2021 Here’s what the surveys really tell us about hesitancy: About one-fifth of Americans don’t want the vaccine, or would only get it if required. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, "Bring Covid Vaccines Door to Door," 16 Apr. 2021 Apple’s design here certainly makes sense given that most people don’t want background music accompanying their video footage. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "This awesome iPhone trick that went viral on TikTok just blew my mind," 16 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Is Biden the next FDR? That depends on what you think about the New Deal," 15 Apr. 2021 Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist at New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College, says the pandemic experience has highlighted the difference between want-tos versus have-tos. Fiorella Valdesolo, WSJ, "The Anxiety of Getting Back into Beauty Routines," 7 Apr. 2021 For the latter, a threefold jump in consumption is the difference between constant want and a life of basic dignity. Ben Ehrenreich, The New Republic, "We’re Hurtling Toward Global Suicide," 18 Mar. 2021 So, want-to is outscoring results one series into 2021. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres hope long homer ignites ‘pressing’ Fernando Tatis Jr.," 4 Apr. 2021 Legend has it that the essential American failed in his first bid for public office for want of whiskey. Eric Felten, Washington Examiner, "I'll vote to that!," 1 Apr. 2021 Like four-star California native C.J. Williams, seeking Brown qualifies as a want. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Ohio State football and the recruiting battle for 4-star wide receiver Kaleb Brown," 11 Mar. 2021 Though Cincinnati’s Aiken High School sits less than seven miles from Mack’s old office at Xavier University, Carlik Jones would leave his hometown largely overlooked, signing with Radford University, mainly for want of alternatives. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Second look at Carlik Jones reveals what college coaches missed first time around," 10 Mar. 2021 Notre Dame didn’t play with any passion or poise or fight or want-to almost from the start. Tom Noie, The Indianapolis Star, "Noie: Could another lethargic ACC loss spell end for Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey?," 4 Mar. 2021

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for want


Middle English, from Old Norse vanta; akin to Old English wan deficient

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Learn More about want

Time Traveler for want

Time Traveler

The first known use of want was in the 13th century

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Statistics for want

Last Updated

20 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Want.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/want. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for want



English Language Learners Definition of want

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to desire or wish for (something)
: to need (something)
: to be without (something needed)



English Language Learners Definition of want (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : the state or condition of not having any or enough of something
: something that is desired or needed
: the state or condition of being poor


\ ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio) , ˈwänt \
wanted; wanting

Kids Definition of want

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to desire, wish, or long for something I want to go home.
2 : to feel or suffer the need of something … such a ghastly brew as to make me want to swoon.— Avi, Crispin
3 : to be without : lack Luckily, my family does not want much.



Kids Definition of want (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : lack entry 2, shortage His actions show a want of common sense.
2 : the state of being very poor They died in want.
3 : a wish for something : desire

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More from Merriam-Webster on want

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for want

Nglish: Translation of want for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of want for Arabic Speakers

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