[ nee-dee ]
/ ˈni di /
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See synonyms for: needy / neediest on Thesaurus.com

adjective, need·i·er, need·i·est.
in a condition of need or want; extremely poor and not having the basic necessities: If your car is serviceable, it will be repaired and donated to a needy family.
having or exhibiting an excessive emotional need, as for attention, intimacy, or reassurance: As he became more competent and less needy, his interpersonal relationships improved.
having many needs to be met: Cats aren’t as needy as dogs.
noun (used with a plural verb)
Usually the needy .Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. extremely poor people collectively.
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Which form is commonly used with other verbs to express intention?

Origin of needy

First recorded in 1125–75; Middle English nedi; see origin at need, -y1


need·i·ly, adverbun·need·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does needy mean?

Needy is an adjective meaning poor. It can also be used as a noun referring collectively to people who are poor or otherwise in need, as in Your donation will help the needy. 

Another, more informal use of needy is as a negative adjective meaning demanding or having a lot needs to be met. It’s especially used to describe someone who requires a lot of attention in a relationship. A similar term is high-maintenance.

Example: The food bank is intended for needy people who have no other way to get food.

Where does needy come from?

The first records of needy come from the 1100s. It comes from the Middle English nedi. It is a combination of the word need and the suffix -y, which means “having or characterized by” and is used to form adjectives from nouns. (Someone who’s hungry has hunger. Someone who’s needy has needs.) Needy has been used as a noun for almost as long. Many adjectives are used as nouns in the same way, such as the rich and the poor. As a noun, needy commonly appears in the redundant phrase the poor and needy. 

Needy is another way of saying someone is in a state of poverty. The term is especially used in the context of charity organizations whose stated mission is to help the needy through donations, community service, and other ways. Helping the needy is encouraged in many religions, and many places of worship take up collections for needy families.

The more informal use of needy is especially applied to relationship partners. It’s always negative and is often used alongside other negative adjectives like clingy and naggy. A person who’s described as needy in this sense has a lot of needs, and they expect and usually demand their needs to be prioritized above those of others.

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What are some other forms related to needy?

  • needier (comparative adjective)
  • neediest (superlative adjective)
  • needily (adverb)
  • unneedy (adjective)

What are some synonyms for needy?

What are some words that share a root or word element with needy



What are some words that often get used in discussing needy?


How is needy used in real life?

When it means “poor” or “the poor,” needy is especially used in the context of charity. When it’s used to describe a person as demanding, it’s always negative—it might even be given as the reason someone broke up with the person they were dating.



Try using needy!

Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym for needy?

A. impoverished
B. poor
C. wealthy
D. in need

How to use needy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for needy

/ (ˈniːdɪ) /

adjective needier or neediest
  1. in need of practical or emotional support; distressed
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the needy
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