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
Performance also said Forest Hills did not want to pay the company what it was owed and that the district fired Performance after a series of school board meetings that violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Act. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, 26 Dec. 2022 Today’s CEOs are facing innumerable challenges: a global pandemic and a sea change in how and where employees want to show up for work, just to name a few. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 25 Dec. 2022 These days, the only thing most kids want on their wrist is an Apple Watch, but for one 11-year-old in Switzerland, style and craftsmanship are more important than texting. Adam Morganstern, Robb Report, 24 Dec. 2022 The Giants are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Vikings want a higher seed for the playoffs. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 24 Dec. 2022 One way or another, I Wanna Dance With Somebody will be a movie all Whitney Houston fans will want to have on their watchlist this holiday season. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 24 Dec. 2022 Smith knew Falcons fans wanted to see Ridder before last week, just as fans always want to see a backup quarterback. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 24 Dec. 2022 Just want to say farewell to Justin Turner and thank him for the many great memories. Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2022 Customers do not want these beloved cafes to vanish, and the demands of workers and business can align, said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University. Diti Kohli, BostonGlobe.com, 23 Dec. 2022
All that Mimi fans in San Antonio want for Christmas, or any time of year, is for Carey to finally come to town for a little concert cheer. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Jan. 2023 At the same time, Georgia May Jagger marked the end of the year with a hot pink dye job, the better to rival winter’s want of red. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 1 Jan. 2023 How long does the 61-year-old want to continue battling the elements — like calling challenges while getting battered into by massive waves or conducting outdoor Tribal Councils in downpours? Dalton Ross, EW.com, 7 Dec. 2022 That is not for want of effort by Britain’s conservative tabloids. Stephen Castle, New York Times, 2 Jan. 2023 That amendment failed for want of support from any other council member. Dallas News, 23 Mar. 2022 Together, the transformations tell a story of forward motion, another step toward the want of idiosyncrasy that is fast becoming beauty’s rule rather than its exception. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 13 Dec. 2022 For those here who’ve lost our way, forgotten the wonderment and the want, a visit to Buffalo would be a worthy refresher course. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Nov. 2022 The rate itself has put additional financial burden to the want of wanting to have a house. James Brown, USA TODAY, 23 Oct. 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



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 6 Feb. 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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