View synonyms for necessity


[ nuh-ses-i-tee ]


, 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.

  3. an imperative requirement or need for something:

    the necessity for a quick decision.

    Synonyms: demand

  4. the state or fact of being necessary or inevitable:

    to face the necessity of testifying in court.

  5. an unavoidable need or compulsion to do something:

    not by choice but by necessity.

  6. a state of being in financial need; poverty:

    a family in dire necessity.

    Synonyms: want, indigence, neediness

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


/ nɪˈsɛsɪtɪ /


  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

  3. the state or quality of being obligatory or unavoidable
  4. urgent requirement, as in an emergency or misfortune

    in time of necessity we must all work together

  5. poverty or want
  6. rare.
    compulsion through laws of nature; fate
  7. philosophy
    1. a condition, principle, or conclusion that cannot be otherwise
    2. the constraining force of physical determinants on all aspects of life Compare freedom
  8. logic
    1. the property of being necessary
    2. a statement asserting that some property is essential or statement is necessarily true
    3. the operator that indicates that the expression it modifies is true in all possible worlds Usual symbol
  9. of necessity
    inevitably; necessarily

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Other Words From

  • nonne·cessi·ty noun plural nonnecessities
  • super·ne·cessi·ty noun plural supernecessities
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Word History and Origins

Origin of necessity1

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

  1. of necessity, as an inevitable result; unavoidably; necessarily:

    Our trip to China must of necessity be postponed for a while.

More idioms and phrases containing necessity

In addition to the idiom beginning with necessity , also see make a virtue of necessity ; of necessity .
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Synonym Study

See need.
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Example Sentences

When I talked to lawyers about how to delay filing a Form D, all gave the standard perfunctory response about the necessity of filing — until we went off-the-record.

The best Valentine’s Day gifts to give and receive are those given based upon both feeling and necessity.

Economists see such savings as a sign the family did not need the money for basic necessities.

We believe a far greater number of people can’t afford internet, but are sacrificing other necessities.

Every play during a pandemic is, by necessity, experimental.

From Quartz

I had to create plays out of necessity, because African women deserved a voice and a place on the stage.

All of these changes to college financing occurred at exactly the time when college education became a necessity.

Nazi texts proclaimed that the annihilation or expulsion of the Armenians was a “compelling necessity.”

The heartbreaking death of MTV reality TV personality Diem Brown proves the emotional necessity and value of the reality TV genre.

After all, the Prince of necessity had to focus on defeating his external enemies.

Sometimes necessity makes an honest man a knave: and a rich man a honest man, because he has no occasion to be a knave.

There was a tremendous necessity for an example of the resurrection of an ordinary man.

Ha—assure you we quite understand; no necessity to say another word about it.

The proudest man in Christendom has found no friend in his extremest necessity, but you his bitterest enemy!

Quiet and good natured, when necessity arose he never failed to assert his authority.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




necessitudeNecessity is the mother of invention