\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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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

Half of voters are familiar with Roe v. Wade (50 percent), and those voters are more likely to want to keep Roe in place (69 percent) than overturn it (27 percent). Dana Blanton, Fox News, "Fox News Poll: Jury's out on Kavanaugh, voters want Senate vote before midterms," 13 July 2018 The park offers a Night Explorer Junior Ranger program for kids who want to learn more about the starry sky. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "These Are the Best Stargazing Spots in North America," 13 July 2018 By signing free agents, but fact: What free agents in the top 15 are going to want to be coached by Fred Hoiberg? — Tom, Dublin, Ohio That’s some strong cynicism for the offseason. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Bulls Q&A: Should Wendell Carter Jr. enter Hall of Fame this week or next? What's the starting lineup?," 12 July 2018 Presumably senators are going to want to know more. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Kavanaugh Ran Up Huge Credit Card Debt From Baseball Tickets, White House Says," 12 July 2018 Exactly how much the fee will be remains to be seen, but €40m is what PSG are said to want. SI.com, "PSG Willing to Sell Adrien Rabiot After Barcelona Agree Personal Terms With Midfielder," 12 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Air Force by 2030 wants to expand to 386 squadrons from 312, while the Navy’s goal is to increase its fleet of ships to 355 from 286 by then. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "Analysis: Military-Spending Slowdown Would Fuel Strategy Debate," 25 Nov. 2018 Yet the powers that be want to pit Teddy against his family in a theatrical battle royal for the audience’s amusement. Trevor Fraser, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Burlypicks returns to Orlando to crown the best in burlesque," 13 June 2018 His ambition to become a painter was hampered by a limited technique and by a telling want of feeling for human figures. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "How American Racism Influenced Hitler," 23 Apr. 2018 The dust storm has knocked NASA's Opportunity rover offline for want of sunlight. Tariq Malik, Space.com, "Epic Dust Storm on Mars Now Completely Covers the Red Planet," 21 June 2018 Brissman: Our best businesses will creatively answer a serious need or want of consumers. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cedarburg candidates talk TIF, downtown and growth," 28 Feb. 2018 The good thing was her wants and my wants were exactly the same. Elizabeth Leonard, PEOPLE.com, "All About Bachelor in Paradise's Ashley Iaconetti's 'Flashy' Engagement Ring from Jared Haibon," 11 July 2018 Check in, and you're immediately transported into the hotel's universe—a place where sunsets look like watercolor paintings, infinity pools seamlessly fade into the coastline, and your every want and need is catered to. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "The Best Room At...Andaz Costa Rica," 14 June 2018 Not surprisingly, the author wrote about characters who often resided on the margins of life, their wants and desires just out of reach. S. Kirk Walsh, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Last Stories,’ by William Trevor," 24 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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Learn More about want

Statistics for want

Last Updated

4 Nov 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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More from Merriam-Webster on want

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with want

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for want

Spanish Central: Translation of want

Nglish: Translation of want for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of want for Arabic Speakers

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 make faulty or ineffective

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