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

Example Sentences

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
Will whoever steps up in the power vacuum created by Logan's death even want to complete the deal anymore? Evan Romano, Men's Health, 10 Apr. 2023 For folks who don't want to be bogged down by a big bag, this piece is the one for you. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Peoplemag, 9 Apr. 2023 But that wasn’t the only City Hall story people wanted to talk about that night. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 9 Apr. 2023 In addition to seeking better residual rates, writers want higher minimum pay rates and better financial security in an industry that is far more likely to order a 10-episode season than the 22-episode season that was standard when broadcasters dominated the medium. R.j. Rico, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Apr. 2023 With a location across from the beach, your kids may never want to leave. Tamara Gane, Chron, 9 Apr. 2023 The Jonas Brothers want a new choreographer. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, 9 Apr. 2023 Ninety percent of the roughly 100,000 people who voted in Paris want the scooters banned. CNN, 9 Apr. 2023 The Chinese government says the island’s contact with foreign officials encourages those who want formal independence, a step Beijing says would lead to war. Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY, 8 Apr. 2023
Like any major city, Dallas has its share of want — 17.7 percent of its population lives in poverty — and economic inequality. Priya Krishna, New York Times, 22 May 2023 Lopez says creating her own line to address her wants and needs has made getting ready a breeze. Jackie Fields, Peoplemag, 12 May 2023 However, crossing the line from ego-aware to ‘egotistical’ (i.e., an inflated ego that is solely focused on achieving one’s own wants and needs) can be more self-damaging than self-protective. Mark Travers, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 McClure runs the business with respect for Beef ‘n Buns’ place in Frederick’s dining ecosystem, sensitive to the community’s wants and economics. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2023 After doing some research, the department narrowed its want list to three breeds: labradoodle, golden doodle and sheep doodle. Chuck Fieldman, Chicago Tribune, 25 July 2022 As soon as Pat McGrath Labs hit the market, the eyeshadow palettes quickly became not a want, but a need, for makeup artists across the globe. Natalie Alcala, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Feb. 2023 Note that the extra was a need, not a want. Dallas News, 8 Dec. 2022 The next 30 percent of your income should go towards your wants—this is everything that’s optional, like dining out, movie tickets, and shopping. Jocelyn Solis-moreira, Popular Science, 4 Apr. 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 8 Jun. 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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