\ ˈnēd How to pronounce need (audio) \

Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : necessary duty : obligation no need to apologize the need to pay taxes— Peter Scott
2a : a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful a building adequate for the company's needs
b : a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism health and education needs
3 : a condition requiring supply or relief The house is in need of repair. refugees in need of shelter and food
4 : lack of the means of subsistence (see subsistence sense 2) : poverty The community program provides for those in need.


needed; needing; needs or (auxiliary) need

Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to be needful or necessary
2 : to be in want

transitive verb

: to be in need of : require

auxiliary verb

: be under necessity or obligation to you need not answer she need only wait

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Synonyms & Antonyms for need

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of need in a Sentence

Noun You can always call me at home if the need arises. These new methods reduce the need to use harmful chemicals on crops. We find that there is still a need for further discussion. There is a great need for change. Our experienced staff will go out of their way to meet your every need. He has trouble expressing his emotional needs. I felt a need to take control of the situation. a need to be loved She has an overwhelming need to be liked and respected. I don't feel the need to defend my decision. Verb I need some advice. What do you think of this dress? I just need a couple of minutes to get ready. Most babies need at least 12 hours of sleep a day. We badly need a vacation. Further research is urgently needed if we are to find a cure. Another delay is the last thing I need! Men? Who needs them?! I certainly don't.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s no transmission tunnel because there’s no need for a drive shaft to connect the independent electric motors to the front and rear axles. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 18 Sep. 2021 There was no formal membership, no pledge cards and a need to fund the twice-weekly distributions of food and clothing to the needy. Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Sep. 2021 Some housing leaders see a need for rent controls to stabilize the market and protect lower-income renters. Amber Randall,, 18 Sep. 2021 Some clothing brands are beginning to cater to this need by offering mix-and-match sets for women that can be dressed up or down depending on their work environment. Lisa Walker, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 The event also reaffirms Antonio’s unvoiced yearning to reevaluate his uprooting — a need depicted throughout the film with magical realist underwater sequences that invoke an otherworldly atmosphere. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2021 Ricks cited Nash’s need for delicate surgery to remove a sinus tumor. Mike Sager, Rolling Stone, 17 Sep. 2021 These results show a need to monitor demographic disparities in extended Covid-19 symptoms, the researchers said. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 17 Sep. 2021 For many, these questions led to a common answer: a need to switch careers. J. Gerald Suarez, USA TODAY, 17 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But with the rise of powerful internet and streaming services, alternate feeds do not need to be placed on television channels. New York Times, 20 Sep. 2021 Thanks to Dart, USC didn’t need much from its backfield. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2021 Really, those are the ones where your lack of expertise is most obvious and doesn’t need stating. Dominic Pino, National Review, 18 Sep. 2021 Other items like keys, wallets, coins and belts do not need to be removed. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 17 Sep. 2021 With 60,000 tracks being produced a day, what do those people need? Geoff Mayfield, Variety, 17 Sep. 2021 For years, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the material doesn’t need to be regulated at batch plants, and for that reason, the state historically did not require plant operators to monitor the air for silica. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 17 Sep. 2021 Unfortunately, these behaviors do need to be lifelong. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 17 Sep. 2021 Newsom, who was vaccinated on camera in April, does not need to quarantine under state rules. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'need.' 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 need


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


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

History and Etymology for need

Noun and Verb

Middle English ned, from Old English nīed, nēd; akin to Old High German nōt distress, need, Old Prussian nautin need

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Time Traveler for need

Time Traveler

The first known use of need was before the 12th century

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Statistics for need

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Need.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for need



English Language Learners Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a situation in which someone or something must do or have something
: something that a person must have : something that is needed in order to live or succeed or be happy
: a strong feeling that you must have or do something



English Language Learners Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be in a condition or situation in which you must have (something) : to require (something)
used to say that some action is necessary usually followed by to + verb
used to say that it is important and necessary for someone to do something followed by to + verb


\ ˈnēd How to pronounce need (audio) \
needed; needing

Kids Definition of need

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to suffer from the lack of something important to life or health Give to those who need.
2 : to be necessary Something needs to be done.
3 : to be without : require I need advice. He bought what he needed.



Kids Definition of need (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that must be done : obligation An electrician understands the need to be careful.
2 : a lack of something necessary, useful, or desired After losing his job, he was in great need.
3 : something necessary or desired Our daily needs are few.

More from Merriam-Webster on need

Nglish: Translation of need for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of need for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about need


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