\ˈwȯnt also ˈwänt 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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Synonyms & Antonyms for want

Synonyms: Verb

bear, challenge, claim, demand, necessitate, need, require, take, warrant

Synonyms: Noun

absence, dearth, lack

Antonyms: Verb

have, hold

Antonyms: Noun


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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


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.


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

People want to be able to look at a candidate and see something of themselves. The Economist, "What’s left?To win back power, Democrats must do things that make them uncomfortable," 14 July 2018 After the murder, lawmakers want to be sure small businesses are a safe haven for minors who may be under attack or seeking help. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Justice For Junior: NY proposes legislation to require small businesses to be safe havens for minors," 13 July 2018 Everybody wants to be part of something in L.A. All this talking and chattering, drummers drumming their thighs, singers warming up their voices, bottles clinking, laughing. Longreads, "Tennis vs. Tennis," 13 July 2018 Buy Photo Dean Finocchiaro just wanted to be outdoors. Erin Mccarthy, Philly.com, "Dean Finocchiaro: A free-spirited daredevil with 'a big heart'," 13 July 2018 The business was initially hindered by World Mission, which abuts the city boundary, because the church did not want to pay the cost of hooking up to city water and sewer services that would be mandated by annexation. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Naperville to consider annexing Route 59 church to make way for commerical development," 12 July 2018 Above all, what Duff (or any other pregnant woman) wants to eat is entirely up to her. Korin Miller, SELF, "Hilary Duff May Have Eaten Sushi While Pregnant and Everyone Needs to Chill Out About It," 13 July 2018 The people of West Baltimore want more WiFi, preferably free public WiFi. Gal Tziperman Lotan, baltimoresun.com, "Free WiFi, public safety key to turning Baltimore into a 'smart city,' residents say," 12 July 2018 The desire for dedicated pickleball courts ranked in the top 25 things residents wanted the Naperville Park District to provide, according to a survey conducted in March. Gary Gibula, Naperville Sun, "Naperville answering demand for pickleball with new courts at Nike Complex, Southwest Park," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Speaking in an exclusive interview with liverpoolfc.com, Dutch center-back, Virgil Van Dijk, talked about his want to improve in every field. SI.com, "New Liverpool Favourite Virgil Van Dijk Focused on Personal Quest of Footballing Self-Improvement," 8 July 2018 In a quick chat before my energy reading, Lauri London Freedman, head of product development at the Whitney, told me the presentation was, in part, what made her want to bring Spellbound Sky to the museum. Kelly Conaboy, The Cut, "Unfortunately, I Love Crystals Now," 22 June 2018 The leagues are already out promoting their wants to state legislators, couched as ethical requirements. Holman Jenkins, WSJ, "Gambling Is Coming, So Get Ready to Hate Sports," 18 May 2018 Janitz, who moonlights as a cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts, says Harper is her biggest cheerleader, the one who makes her want to be better on and off the job. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "They saved her baby; now this mom is saving others," 13 May 2018 Many times, even if a person has lived in Houston before, Sjurseth said that their wants, needs and lifestyle might have changed dramatically. Michelle Sandlin, Houston Chronicle, "On the move: Sjurseth overcomes challenges in move back to Houston," 19 Jan. 2018 Ahead, a full guide to taking full control of your account, whether your want to delete your activity status in Direct, a photo from your profile, or your Insta existence completely. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "How To Delete (Almost) Anything On Instagram, Including Your Account," 6 July 2018 Members of Call to Action want leaders in the African-American community to have more of a say in the operation of the school, including the development of academic and behavioral standards and curriculum. Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Howard Fuller emerges as central figure in battle over the future of MPS North Division High School," 5 July 2018 Russell envisioned the perfect dedication to Roosevelt’s principals of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Amy Aumick, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Explore Florida's Madison County: A piece of World War II history," 7 May 2018

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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Statistics for want

Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for want

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

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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)

: 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, 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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Comments on want

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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