\ ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio) also ˈwänt How to pronounce want (audio) 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 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 In addition, at least 50% of people in the states surveyed want the U.S. government to do more to address climate change. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: More signs that climate legislation would be atop Biden agenda," 26 Oct. 2020 Turkish-Cypriot authorities now want to redevelop it to win implicit international acceptance of the breakaway state’s control. Selcan Hacaoglu, Bloomberg.com, "Turkey’s Erdogan Plans to Attend ‘Picnic’ in Cyprus Flash-Point," 26 Oct. 2020 Some signatories want Ann Klotz, the head of Laurel School, to step down. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "How Laurel School is responding to racism, and why some alumnae and students feel it isn’t enough," 26 Oct. 2020 Braucher and other prisoner advocates want the Newsom administration to release the 1,100 men instead of shifting them to other prisons. Jason Fagone, SFChronicle.com, "Newsom has been ordered to halve San Quentin’s population, but he may not release inmates," 26 Oct. 2020 Those with greasy skin will want to look for products that will control oiliness. Audrey Noble, Seventeen, "How to Figure Out Your Skin Type—And Why You Should Care," 26 Oct. 2020 More than a quarter of Britons want the empire back. Maya Jasanoff, The New Yorker, "Misremembering the British Empire," 26 Oct. 2020 Because of the crazy way this went down, people want answers. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Chrishell Stause and Justin Hartley Played Love Interests in This Romantic Comedy Prior to Divorce," 26 Oct. 2020 Democrats want more state and local aid and more federal spending on health care and unemployment insurance, while Republicans prefer to use tax cuts and direct relief to businesses to boost investment and consumer demand. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "The Capital Note: Wall Street Wants a Blue Wave," 26 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But researchers have yet to fully explore its possibilities — and not for want of trying. Quanta Magazine, "Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson Record," 8 Oct. 2020 The anti-trust lawsuit against the Lathrop Company was dismissed in 1971 for want of prosecution. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Despite the odds, Anchorage used to have 3 drive-in movie theaters in operation at the same time," 11 Oct. 2020 Spooked by a belligerent Beijing, India is in a proto-alliance—for want of a better phrase—with the U.S. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "‘Making India Great’ Review: Rising Expectations," 6 Oct. 2020 Banning cars from some roads merely increased traffic on others; local businesses were dying for want of customers; the disabled could not get about. The Economist, "Cars in the capital The battle over London’s road closures," 3 Oct. 2020 There's no question that want is as keenly felt this year as ever. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Weary or not, don't give up on helping others," 28 Sep. 2020 And big restaurant chains from Applebee's to Domino's want in. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Chicken wings are hot. Big restaurant chains are paying attention," 22 Sep. 2020 Lawmakers in San Diego want Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign AB 331, which passed the legislature and has been sitting on his desk for two weeks, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Robert Hopwood, USA TODAY, "In California: The battle to save a historic observatory from flames, and meet Mr. Kamala Harris," 17 Sep. 2020 Much of the coverage of Krug has reduced her story to this point: the want of Blackness. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, "The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White," 12 Sep. 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

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Want.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/want. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for want


How to pronounce want (audio) 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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