[ nuh-ses-i-tee ]
See synonyms for: necessitynecessities on

noun,plural ne·ces·si·ties.
  1. something necessary or indispensable: food, shelter, and other necessities of life.

  2. the fact of being necessary or indispensable; indispensability: the necessity of adequate housing.

  1. an imperative requirement or need for something: the necessity for a quick decision.

  2. the state or fact of being necessary or inevitable: to face the necessity of testifying in court.

  3. an unavoidable need or compulsion to do something: not by choice but by necessity.

  4. a state of being in financial need; poverty: a family in dire necessity.

  5. Philosophy. the quality of following inevitably from logical, physical, or moral laws.

Idioms about necessity

  1. of necessity, as an inevitable result; unavoidably; necessarily: Our trip to China must of necessity be postponed for a while.

Origin of necessity

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English necessite, from Latin necessitās, from necess(e) “needful” + -itās -ity

synonym study For necessity

3. See need.

Other words for necessity

Other words from necessity

  • non·ne·ces·si·ty, noun, plural non·ne·ces·si·ties.
  • su·per·ne·ces·si·ty, noun, plural su·per·ne·ces·si·ties. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use necessity in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for necessity


/ (nɪˈsɛsɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. (sometimes plural) something needed for a desired result; prerequisite: necessities of life

  2. a condition or set of circumstances, such as physical laws or social rules, that inevitably requires a certain result: it is a matter of necessity to wear formal clothes when meeting the Queen

  1. the state or quality of being obligatory or unavoidable

  2. urgent requirement, as in an emergency or misfortune: in time of necessity we must all work together

  3. poverty or want

  4. rare compulsion through laws of nature; fate

  5. philosophy

    • a condition, principle, or conclusion that cannot be otherwise

    • the constraining force of physical determinants on all aspects of life: Compare freedom (def. 8)

  6. logic

    • the property of being necessary

    • a statement asserting that some property is essential or statement is necessarily true

    • the operator that indicates that the expression it modifies is true in all possible worlds: Usual symbol: ,

  7. of necessity inevitably; necessarily

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with necessity


In addition to the idiom beginning with necessity

  • necessity is the mother of invention

also see:

  • make a virtue of necessity
  • of necessity

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.