• synonyms


[need-fuh l]
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  1. necessary or required: needful supplies.
  2. needy.
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  1. the needful, Slang. money, especially immediately available cash: They haven't the needful for a car right now.
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Origin of needful

Middle English word dating back to 1125–75; see origin at need, -ful
Related formsneed·ful·ly, adverbneed·ful·ness, nounun·need·ful, adjectiveun·need·ful·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for needful

Historical Examples

  • It was needful to implore them since they found the assurance so difficult to believe.

    The Conquest of Fear

    Basil King

  • It is needful, therefore, to understand it as accurately as may be, however we may judge it.

  • Money was needful to extricate him from this drudgery and let him follow up his aspirations.

  • I have lodged the needful in the bank, to purchase a commission for you, my son.

  • The seamen in return purvey the needful luxuries for lumber-camps.

British Dictionary definitions for needful


  1. necessary; needed; required
  2. archaic needy; poverty-stricken
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  1. the needful informal money or fundsdo you have the needful?
  2. do the needful to perform a necessary task
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Derived Formsneedfully, adverbneedfulness, noun
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 needful


late 12c., niedfulle, "needy," from need (n.) + -ful. Meaning "characterized by need" is from mid-13c.; meaning "indispensable" is from mid-14c.; noun meaning "what is necessary" is from 1709. Colloquial sense of "cash" is recorded from 1774 in phrase the needful "money." Related: Needfully.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper