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ˈməst How to pronounce must (audio)
present tense and past tense, all persons must

auxiliary verb

: be commanded or requested to
you must stop
: be urged to : ought by all means to
you must read that book
: be compelled by physical necessity to
one must eat to live
: be required by immediate or future need or purpose to
we must hurry to catch the bus
: be obliged to : be compelled by social considerations to
I must say you're looking well
: be required by law, custom, or moral conscience (see conscience sense 1) to
we must obey the rules
: be determined to
if you must go at least wait for me
: be unreasonably or perversely compelled to
why must you argue
: be logically inferred (see infer sense 1) or supposed to
it must be time
: be compelled by fate or by natural law to
what must be will be
: was or were presumably certain to : was or were bound to
if he did it she must have known
dialect : may, shall
used chiefly in questions

intransitive verb

archaic : to be obliged to go
I must to CoventryWilliam Shakespeare


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noun (1)

: an imperative need or duty : requirement
: an indispensable item : essential
exercise is a must


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noun (2)

: the expressed juice of fruit and especially grapes before and during fermentation
also : the pulp and skins of the crushed grapes


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noun (3)

Examples of must in a Sentence

Verb we must be quiet during the performance
Recent Examples on the Web
Hydro Flask 32-ounce Water Bottle A durable water bottle is a must for exploring the arid Outback and working on farms in one of the hottest, driest places on Earth. Olivia Young, Travel + Leisure, 8 Apr. 2024 This TikTok-viral option from Caraway is a must for PEOPLE Shopping Editor Kayla Kitts, who uses it daily. Michelle Rostamian, Peoplemag, 6 Apr. 2024 Owning at least one pair of comfortable, go-to shoes is a must for anyone who is pregnant. Jessica Booth, Parents, 5 Apr. 2024 If your pup suffers from itchy dry skin, a good dog shampoo for itchy dry skin is an absolute must. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 Also fun and vibrant is dinner out at Zou Zou's near Hudson Yards, where a must after-dinner stop is the speakeasy upstairs, Chez Zou. Leslie Kelly, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 The popular former governor would need to win over a meaningful share of moderate Democrats or independents who typically back Democratic candidates — a coalition critical to his successful gubernatorial bids in 2014 and 2018, and a must for any Republican to win in Maryland. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 28 Mar. 2024 If multi-gig networking and USB are a must, consider spending a bit more for the Synology WRX560. PCMAG, 27 Mar. 2024 Photo: Courtesy of the Mix Design Hub Insider recommendations Stay: For writer and curator Ekow Eshun, Accra’s rustic La Villa Boutique is a must. Funmi Fetto, Vogue, 26 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to

Noun (2)

Middle English, from Old English, from Latin mustum

Noun (3)

Middle English (Scots) moist, from Middle French must, alteration of musc musk

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (1)

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of must was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near must

Cite this Entry

“Must.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 helping verb
məs(t) How to pronounce must (audio)
present & past all persons must
: is commanded, requested, or urged to
the train must stop
you must read that book
: is forced, required, or obliged to
leaves must fall
one must eat to live
we must be quiet
: is determined to
if you must go
: is very likely to
it must be time
must have lost it
: is certain to
the bus must be coming


2 of 2 noun
: something required or absolutely necessary
new shoes are a must

Medical Definition


: the expressed juice of fruit and especially grapes before and during fermentation

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