want

1 of 2

verb

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

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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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 sayClaudia Cassidy
5
: to wish or demand the presence of
6
: to hunt or seek in order to apprehend
wanted for murder

want

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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
Choose the Right Synonym for want

Verb

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

Noun

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Steven Johnson is seen images from an Oregon wanted poster in the 1990s and in a booking photo following his 2024 arrest in Georgia. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 18 July 2024 Black tie optional is when a couple wants their wedding to look like and be a formal affair—but understands that implies fancier (and often more expensive) attire for guests. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 18 July 2024
Noun
What’s left is the divide between what the leaders of a state agency want, and whether the public gets a say. Anthony Hennen | The Center Square, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 18 July 2024 This requires sustaining productivity among an increasingly diverse workforce, all of whom have their own personal wants and needs. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for want 

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

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

want

1 of 2 verb
ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio)
 also  ˈwänt,
ˈwənt
1
: to be without : lack
this coat is wanting a button
2
: to feel or have the need of : require
our house wants painting
3
: to desire, wish, or long for something
wanted a chance to play
4
: ought sense 2
you want to be very careful
5
: to seek in order to arrest
was wanted for murder

want

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: a lack of a required or usual amount
b
: a state of great poverty
2
: something wanted : need, desire

More from Merriam-Webster on want

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