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
For drivers who want an even racier Urus, the new Performante model is the answer. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 21 Mar. 2023 Place a table for drinks within arm's reach, and your guests might never want to leave! Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Mar. 2023 Congressman Bill Archer Dog Park Located in West Houston, this massive 17-acre dog park is everything dogs and humans could want in a dog park. Gabi De La Rosa, Chron, 20 Mar. 2023 Home schooling or virtual schooling remains popular, but still small Melchert said that, in general, the school’s students from around the state are from families who want a Christian education and would be likely to home school their children. Alan J. Borsuk, Journal Sentinel, 20 Mar. 2023 Some guys might want to jump right back into their PR-level of training immediately; others, like you, Getting Back to Normal, might be skittish about going even close to all-out again. Brett Williams, Men's Health, 20 Mar. 2023 Those who want to try Walmart+ free for 30 days can also get free shipping on all items. Josie Howell | , al, 20 Mar. 2023 There is some good news for those who don't want to sneeze and sniffle throughout spring. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 20 Mar. 2023 There also have been some incidents in elevators, although Vargas did not want to share anything specific. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Mar. 2023
In 2018, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point briefly considered eliminating thirteen majors, including English, history, and philosophy, for want of pupils. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 27 Feb. 2023 The Wednesday Effect The release of Netflix’s Wednesday in late November came with a want of polished goth to which no one is immune—including the artists behind fall 2023’s runway looks. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 16 Feb. 2023 Asking if something is a need or a want can also be helpful during your financial audit. Alicia Adamczyk, Fortune, 2 Jan. 2023 What Friend delivers here is a portrait of the want that plagues so many of us, a want for success that’s really a want for redemption. Longreads, 29 Dec. 2022 For astrological girlies, this is a need, not a want. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, 16 Dec. 2022 Waists are often suppressed and close-fitting; shoulders are padded and strong; and heavy canvassing is not just a want, but a need. Isiah Magsino, Town & Country, 6 Dec. 2022 All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached... James Freeman, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2022 Expanding your horizons may feel like a need rather than a want. Chicago Tribune, 25 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 22 Mar. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Standardized Test Words

  • high school student holding a pencil leaning over a sat test
  • Despite the cacophony, the student tried to study.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?