1 of 2


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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

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


2 of 2


: deficiency, lack
suffers from a want of good sense
: grave and extreme poverty that deprives one of the necessities of life
: something wanted : need, desire
: personal defect : fault
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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Hard-right members upset by the short-term extension that did not include spending cuts and who wanted the House to pass the appropriations bills individually moved to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as their leader. Caitlin Yilek, CBS News, 15 Nov. 2023 House Republicans want to know more about American CEOs shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to dine with the leader of China. Haisten Willis, Washington Examiner, 15 Nov. 2023 So what exactly is Wicker looking for in a head coach? To begin with, Wicker wants one who understands the culture within both the SDSU football program and athletic department. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Nov. 2023 Having won permission to build a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant in Guangdong Province, the company wants to be a key supplier of plastics to the country’s manufacturing industry for decades to come. Thomas Black, Fortune, 15 Nov. 2023 If the world wants to peak and reduce global coal production, this is essential. WIRED, 15 Nov. 2023 Like many entertainers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese songwriter and musician Yoshiki wanted to find a way to use his artistry to lift people’s spirits, particularly fans who wrote to him about being in a dark place during that time. Brande Victorian, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Nov. 2023 The two leaders are expected to discuss the wars going on in Ukraine and the Middle East (Biden wants to warn Xi against North Korea or Iran meddling in the conflicts) and the U.S.’s high-level visits to Taiwan (Xi wants to see fewer visits from American officials), among other topics. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2023 Current city Los Angeles Really want to be in Back home in Boston. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 3 Nov. 2023
The vision of a future free from want and full of pocketless robes seems ever-distant. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 For 65 years, Hershey, Pa., has been the headquarters of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), whose annual Car Corral show and flea market continues to fuel the want list of collectors. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 18 Sep. 2023 Anything nonessential falls into the wants category. Kevin J. Ryan, wsj.com, 7 Sep. 2023 All that the protagonists of The Gilded Age want is to fund and produce prestige entertainment without being bothered by the annoyance of striking workers! Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2023 So, treating Miss Minutes as a real character with real wants and needs was a big thing for me. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Oct. 2023 The mandate was criticized for not taking into account the wants and needs of the Palestinians who resided in the land and wanted independence. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 12 Oct. 2023 Homes with fenced yards, Zillow research shows, sell an average of three days faster than non-fenced homes. Access to parks or trails also ranks high on the wants list. Tom Peterson, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 If public transportation had to cut service for want of fares, the city would grow unfriendly to work. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'want.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near want

Cite this Entry

“Want.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/want. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio)
 also  ˈwänt,
: to be without : lack
this coat is wanting a button
: to feel or have the need of : require
our house wants painting
: to desire, wish, or long for something
wanted a chance to play
: ought sense 2
you want to be very careful
: to seek in order to arrest
was wanted for murder


2 of 2 noun
: a lack of a required or usual amount
: a state of great poverty
: something wanted : need, desire

More from Merriam-Webster on want

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