want

1 of 2

verb

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

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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

want

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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

Verb

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

Noun

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
Verb
Our teen will often want to watch TV with us but will also text with his friends. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2022 For this reason alone, fans of the show will want to tune in to see how this fallout will shake itself out. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, 2 Dec. 2022 Our columnist writes that if the NWSL, U.S. Soccer and anyone else who had a hand in creating, tolerating and perpetuating the abusive atmosphere in the league really want to make amends, strong, substantive measures are needed. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2022 What the Niners’ D won’t want is a repeat of its meltdown Oct. 22 against the Chiefs. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Dec. 2022 Given the uncertainty of the Albertsons ACI -0.95% transaction, investors will want to pay attention to the stand-alone company’s ability to increase market share—especially in online groceries, a space where both Kroger and Albertsons are laggards. Jinjoo Lee, WSJ, 1 Dec. 2022 Valerie is the kind of character readers will want to be friends with. Sun Sentinel, 30 Nov. 2022 As with wildfires, even those who are not compromised will want to avoid athletic activities outdoors. Krista Simmons, Sunset Magazine, 29 Nov. 2022 But Herd said material scientists will want to study space minerals like elaliite and elkinstantonite for potential benefits. Chris Smith, BGR, 29 Nov. 2022
Noun
In a recent column, George F. Will hit on an important theme: Where the problem of want — material well-being, a full belly — has been largely solved, other problems rush to take its place. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 30 Nov. 2022 Of course, the dangers of a scarcity mindset can be simple enough to remember in times of plenty but hard to recall during times of want. Michael Mcmullen, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2022 In his 2020 essay, Andreesson pinned the reason that there’s any housing crisis at all on the question of want. Colin Lodewick, Fortune, 6 Aug. 2022 Climate leadership is failing, though not for want of ideas. Sarah Sloat, WIRED, 20 Nov. 2022 Apparently, many assume that a man alone at a beach house must be in want of guests. Marni Jameson, Orlando Sentinel, 21 Oct. 2022 This came as a relief after a poor second quarter, when the company left more than 90,000 vehicles unfinished in inventories for want of semiconductors and other components. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, 25 Oct. 2022 Adding a wing with NBA size, defensive want-to and three-point shooting certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Blazers. oregonlive, 9 June 2022 This year’s 79th iteration was no exception, delivering a selection of sleek and stylized beauty moments that had onlookers forgetting summer’s easy air-dries in want of all things prettily polished. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 1 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Old Norse vanta; akin to Old English wan deficient

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

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 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

want 1 of 2

verb

ˈwȯnt How to pronounce want (audio)
 also  ˈwänt,
ˈwənt
1
: to be without : lack
this coat is wanting a button
2
: to feel or have the need of : require
our house wants painting
3
: to desire, wish, or long for something
wanted a chance to play
4
: ought sense 2
you want to be very careful
5
: to seek in order to arrest
was wanted for murder

want

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a lack of a required or usual amount
b
: a state of great poverty
2
: something wanted : need, desire

More from Merriam-Webster on want

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