\ ˈwȯnt also ˈwänt and ˈwənt How to pronounce want (audio) \
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 infinitiveyou 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 Residents in The Woodlands who want to help by donating can do so at a special first responder event on Thursday and three upcoming blood drives in August. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "First responder blood drive set for Thursday in Woodlands; 2 others in August," 13 July 2020 The name’s defenders have argued that it is opposed by only a minority of Native Americans, who have drawn support from non-Native Americans who want to demonstrate their moral superiority. Washington Post, "Corporate money, Black Lives Matter protests and elites’ opinion drove Redskins name change," 13 July 2020 They were also known as privileged troublemakers who didn't want to fight in the war. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "During WWII, troublemakers were sent to remote labor camp in Michigan's U.P.," 12 July 2020 The dispute over the century-old law became a flashpoint in the bigger battle within the administration between the free trade contingent and those who want to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Trump backed off shipping reform under political pressure, former advisers claim," 12 July 2020 The 15-member council has been split, with most members pitted against Syrian ally Russia and China, who want to cut the number of border crossings to one, arguing those areas can be reached with humanitarian help from within Syria. NBC News, "Russia, China veto aid to Syria via Turkey at U.N. Security Council," 10 July 2020 More:How to pack for a road trip during a pandemic For travelers who want a digital alternative to the restroom guessing game, there are apps that may help. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "Motorists hold their bladders as some restaurants, gas stations close public restrooms," 10 July 2020 And in a world where so much seems uncertain, who among us doesn’t just want to feel understood? Vicky Spratt, refinery29.com, "Communication Fail: Please Stop Texting Me," 10 July 2020 In the meantime, officials would look into alternative teaching sites for those who want to complete their training. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, "Navajo police academy suspended after 7 recruits test positive for COVID-19," 10 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Good companies might go under for a want of cash to see them through the covid-19 shutdown. The Economist, "Buttonwood More corporate defaults seem to be on the way," 11 July 2020 The want has always been there, but the time hasn’t. Shauna Stuart | Sstuart@al.com, al, "‘We have to change it’: Birmingham pastry chefs on baking for social justice," 26 June 2020 Shops and cafés which reopened after the lockdown was lifted have quickly closed again for want of custom. The Economist, "From bad to worse Bashar al-Assad has no solutions to Syria’s crisis," 20 June 2020 Conversations about a path to status can get bogged down in esoteric discussions about citizenship and belonging, but fundamentally the things that Beatriz and Emilio want are pretty simple. Felipe De La Hoz, The New Republic, "America Owes More to Its “Essential” Immigrant Workers," 19 June 2020 If, faced with half-empty offices, such service workers do not come back for want of custom, that will add to the commuters’ disinclination to return. The Economist, "Centres of excellence Covid-19 challenges New York’s future," 11 June 2020 Because of its very nature as a pay-what-you-want service, The Panel Syndicate isn’t likely to supplant the major publishers anytime soon. Christian Holub, EW.com, "What quarantine innovations can tell us about the future of comics," 28 May 2020 In spite of dire predictions, there are no widespread deaths from want of ventilators or pharmaceuticals, and big and small firms alike have found productive ways to respond to the crisis. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 16 Apr. 2020 This time has been an exercise in prioritizing needs from wants. New York Times, "Coronavirus and Sex: Questions and Answers," 30 Mar. 2020

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

24 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Want.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/want. Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for want


How to pronounce want (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with want

Spanish Central: Translation of want

Nglish: Translation of want for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of want for Arabic Speakers

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