[ need ]
See synonyms for: needneededneedingneeds on

  1. a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation: There is no need for you to go there.

  2. a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary: to fulfill the needs of the assignment.

  1. urgent want, as of something requisite: He has no need of your charity.

  2. necessity arising from the circumstances of a situation or case: There is no need to worry.

  3. a situation or time of difficulty; exigency: to help a friend in need;to be a friend in need.

  4. a condition marked by the lack of something requisite: the need for leadership.

  5. destitution; extreme poverty: The family's need is acute.

verb (used with object)
  1. to have need of; require: to need money.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be under an obligation (used as an auxiliary, typically in an interrogative or in a negative statement, and followed by infinitive, in certain cases without to; in the 3d person singular the form is need, not needs): He need not go.

  2. to be in need or want.

  1. to be necessary: There needs no apology.

Idioms about need

  1. if need be, should the necessity arise: If need be, I can type the letters myself.

Origin of need

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun nede, Old English nēd (West Saxon nīed ), cognate with German Not, Old Norse nauth, Gothic nauths

synonym study For need

4. Need, necessity imply a want, a lack, or a demand, which must be filled. Need, a word of Old English origin, has connotations that make it strong in emotional appeal: the need to be appreciated. Necessity, a word of Latin origin, is more formal and impersonal or objective; though much stronger than need in expressing urgency or imperative demand, it is less effective in appealing to the emotions: Water is a necessity for living things.

Other words for need

Opposites for need

Other words from need

  • needer, noun
  • un·need·ed, adjective
  • well-needed, adjective

Words Nearby need Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use need in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for need


/ (niːd) /

  1. (tr) to be in want of: to need money

  2. (tr) to require or be required of necessity (to be or do something); be obliged: to need to do more work

  1. (takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary in negative and interrogative sentences to express necessity or obligation, and does not add -s when used with he, she, it, and singular nouns: need he go?

  2. (intr) archaic to be essential or necessary to: there needs no reason for this

  1. the fact or an instance of feeling the lack of something: he has need of a new coat

  2. a requirement: the need for vengeance

  1. necessity or obligation resulting from some situation: no need to be frightened

  2. distress or extremity: a friend in need

  3. extreme poverty or destitution; penury

Origin of need

Old English nēad, nied; related to Old Frisian nēd, Old Saxon nōd, Old High German nōt

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 need


In addition to the idiom beginning with need

  • needle in a haystack
  • needless to say
  • need like a hole in the head

also see:

  • cry for (crying need for).

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