• synonyms


[wont, wawnt]
See more synonyms for want on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to feel a need or a desire for; wish for: to want one's dinner; always wanting something new.
  2. to wish, need, crave, demand, or desire (often followed by an infinitive): I want to see you. She wants to be notified.
  3. to be without or be deficient in: to want judgment; to want knowledge.
  4. to fall short by (a specified amount): The sum collected wants but a few dollars of the desired amount.
  5. to require or need: The house wants painting.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to feel inclined; wish; like (often followed by to): We can stay home if you want.
  2. to be deficient by the absence of some part or thing, or to feel or have a need (sometimes followed by for): He did not want for abilities.
  3. to have need (usually followed by for): If you want for anything, let him know.
  4. to be in a state of destitution, need, or poverty: She would never allow her parents to want.
  5. to be lacking or absent, as a part or thing necessary to completeness: All that wants is his signature.
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  1. something wanted or needed; necessity: My wants are few.
  2. something desired, demanded, or required: a person of childish, capricious wants.
  3. absence or deficiency of something desirable or requisite; lack: plants dying for want of rain.
  4. the state of being without something desired or needed; need: to be in want of an assistant.
  5. the state of being without the necessaries of life; destitution; poverty: a country where want is virtually unknown.
  6. a sense of lack or need of something: to feel a vague want.
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  1. want in/out, Chiefly Midland.
    1. to desire to enter or leave: The cat wants in.
    2. Informal.to desire acceptance in or release from something specified: I talked with Louie about our plan, and he wants in.
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Origin of want

1150–1200; Middle English wante < Old Norse vanta to lack
Related formswant·er, nounwant·less, adjectivewant·less·ness, nounself-want, nounun·want·ed, adjective
Can be confusedunwanted unwontedwant wont

Synonyms for want

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Synonym study

1. See wish. 3. See lack. 15. See poverty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for want

need, wish, require, prefer, crave, choose, demand, longing, requirement, hankering, yen, hunger, thirst, yearning, fancy, necessity, appetite, craving, privation, defect

Examples from the Web for want

Contemporary Examples of want

Historical Examples of want

  • People can talk all they want to about your bein' just a dub—I won't believe 'em.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I want him to think he ain't got a friend on earth but himself.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "I suppose you want to be taken back," said the superintendent, abruptly.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Why should you want to see me do well, after our little affair?

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Just sit around and talk wise about me all you want to, but watch.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for want


  1. (tr) to feel a need or longing forI want a new hat
  2. (when tr, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to wish, need, or desire (something or to do something)he wants to go home
  3. (intr usually used with a negative and often foll by for) to be lacking or deficient (in something necessary or desirable)the child wants for nothing
  4. (tr) to feel the absence oflying on the ground makes me want my bed
  5. (tr) to fall short by (a specified amount)
  6. (tr) mainly British to have need of or require (doing or being something)your shoes want cleaning
  7. (intr) to be destitute
  8. (tr; often passive) to seek or request the presence ofyou're wanted upstairs
  9. (intr) to be absent
  10. (tr; takes an infinitive) informal should or ought (to do something)you don't want to go out so late
  11. want in informal to wish to be included in a venture
  12. want out informal to wish to be excluded from a venture
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  1. the act or an instance of wanting
  2. anything that is needed, desired, or lackedto supply someone's wants
  3. a lack, shortage, or absencefor want of common sense
  4. the state of being in need; destitutionthe state should help those in want
  5. a sense of lack; craving
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Derived Formswanter, noun

Word Origin for want

C12 (vb, in the sense: it is lacking), C13 (n): from Old Norse vanta to be deficient; related to Old English wanian to wane


  1. English dialect a mole
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Word Origin for want

Old English wand
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 want


c.1200, "to be lacking," from Old Norse vanta "to lack, want," earlier *wanaton, from Proto-Germanic *wanen, from PIE *we-no-, from root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out" (see vain). The meaning "desire, wish for" is first recorded 1706. Related: wanted; wanting.

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c.1300, "deficiency, shortage," from Old Norse vant, neuter of vanr "wanting, deficient;" related to Old English wanian "to diminish" (see wane). Phrase for want of is recorded from c.1400. Meaning "state of destitution" is recorded from mid-14c. Newspaper want ad is recorded from 1897. Middle English had wantsum (c.1200) "in want, deprived of," literally "want-some."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with want


In addition to the idioms beginning with want

  • want for nothing
  • want in

also see:

  • waste not, want not
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.