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See more synonyms for lack on Thesaurus.com
  1. deficiency or absence of something needed, desirable, or customary: lack of money; lack of skill.
  2. something missing or needed: After he left, they really felt the lack.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to be without or deficient in: to lack ability; to lack the necessities of life.
  2. to fall short in respect of: He lacks three votes to win.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be absent or missing, as something needed or desirable: Three votes are lacking to make a majority.
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Verb Phrases
  1. lack in, to be short of or deficient in: What he lacks in brains, he makes up for in brawn.
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Origin of lack

1125–75; Middle English lak; cognate with Middle Low German lak, Middle Dutch lac deficiency; akin to Old Norse lakr deficient

Synonyms for lack

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Synonym study

3. Lack, want, need, require as verbs all stress the absence of something desirable, important, or necessary. Lack means to be without or to have less than a desirable quantity of something: to lack courage, sufficient money, enough members to make a quorum. Want may imply some urgency in fulfilling a requirement or a desire: Willing workers are badly wanted. The room wants some final touch to make it homey. Need often suggests even more urgency than does want stressing the necessity of supplying what is lacking: to need an operation, better food, a match to light the fire. Require, which expresses necessity as strongly as need, occurs most frequently in serious or formal contexts: Your presence at the hearing is required. Successful experimentation requires careful attention to detail.

Antonyms for lack

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for lacks

loss, shortfall, inadequacy, reduction, dearth, paucity, absence, poverty, scarcity, shortage, shortcoming, need, require, want, distress, privation, defect, decrease, meagerness, shrinking

Examples from the Web for lacks

Contemporary Examples of lacks

Historical Examples of lacks

  • We do not fulminate against a treatise on Quaternions because it lacks humor.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • "It lacks just a few months of being twenty-eight years," she added.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • When he's got that, no matter what else he lacks, you've got something to build on.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • It lacks the neatness, the athletic movement of Paine's English.

  • He lacks all his family's instinct for business-like promptitude.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

British Dictionary definitions for lacks


  1. an insufficiency, shortage, or absence of something required or desired
  2. something that is required but is absent or in short supply
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  1. (when intr, often foll by in or for) to be deficient (in) or have need (of)to lack purpose
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Word Origin for lack

C12: related to Middle Dutch laken to be wanting
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lacks



c.1300, "absence, want; shortage, deficiency," perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *lac, or else borrowed from Middle Dutch lak "deficiency, fault;" in either case from Proto-Germanic *laka- (cf. Old Frisian lek "disadvantage, damage," Old Norse lakr "lacking"), from PIE *leg- "to dribble, trickle." Middle English also had lackless "without blame or fault."

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late 12c., perhaps from Middle Dutch laken "to be wanting," from lak (n.) "deficiency, fault," or an unrecorded native cognate word (see lack (n.)). Related: Lacked; lacking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper