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

Essential Meaning of want

1 : to desire or wish for (something) Do you want more coffee? He wants a bicycle for his birthday. See More ExamplesI 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.Hide
2 : to need (something) Our house wants painting. The motor wants a tune-up.
3 : to be without (something needed) : lack Thousands of poor people still want food and shelter. He's not the most talented player, but he doesn't want self-confidence. [=he has a lot of self-confidence]

Full 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 infinitive you 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

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Compounding the situation, people who normally don't need to file returns likely will want to do so this time around to receive tax credits or other benefits. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 25 Jan. 2022 None of us want injury to happen to anybody at any time for any reason. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 25 Jan. 2022 Some urged to file: Many people will want to file a 2021 tax return even if they aren't required to do so because of their low income. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 24 Jan. 2022 Players also want to reduce revenue sharing, which would take money away from smaller-market teams and allow large-market clubs to retain a higher percentage of cash — presumably to be spent on salaries. Ronald Blum, ajc, 24 Jan. 2022 As the war grinds on, few and fewer want to invest in the unstable and risky land along the frontline. Jd Linville, Variety, 24 Jan. 2022 Defense lawyers from the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent want Kearney to halt the prosecution now, and not hold Dorotik for what would be a second trial. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Jan. 2022 That being said, the pair never want to miss out on something special. Sophie Dodd, PEOPLE.com, 22 Jan. 2022 But Disney and Marvel also want to sell merchandise based on movies, including Doctor Strange 2. Chris Smith, BGR, 21 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Baby Boomers and Millennials also had remarkably similarly responses, 47% and 46% respectively, for a want of face-to-face meetings. April Rudin, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 After a stint in the Army and while working as a dishwasher, Poitier answered a want-ad placed by the American Negro Theater looking for actors. Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Jan. 2022 Knowing what other want is not the same as practicing it. John Baldoni, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 Peoples said the program is helping people who are not just Gary residents but their neighbors who have decided the want to change. Carrie Napoleon, chicagotribune.com, 3 Nov. 2021 Exactly what Manchin and Sinema want has been unclear. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 The supply chain has become an unlikely Ghost of Christmas Present, exposing the nature of our wealth and its flipside of want. Jeva Lange, The Week, 12 Oct. 2021 FC Cincinnati wasn't beaten so soundly at Nashville for lack of want. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 27 July 2021 The only way that’s really going to happen is a catastrophe that none of us of want. ABC News, 4 July 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About want

Time Traveler for want

Time Traveler

The first known use of want was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near want

Wanstead and Woodford


want ad

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for want

Last Updated

26 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Want.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/want. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for want


\ 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: The Cross of Lead
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

More from Merriam-Webster on want

Nglish: Translation of want for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of want for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!