[won-ting, wawn-]


lacking or absent: a motor with some of the parts wanting.
deficient in some part, thing, or respect: to be wanting in courtesy.


lacking; without: a box wanting a lid.
less; minus: a century wanting three years.

Origin of wanting

1250–1300; Middle English (adj.); see want, -ing2


[wont, wawnt]

verb (used with object)

to feel a need or a desire for; wish for: to want one's dinner; always wanting something new.
to wish, need, crave, demand, or desire (often followed by an infinitive): I want to see you. She wants to be notified.
to be without or be deficient in: to want judgment; to want knowledge.
to fall short by (a specified amount): The sum collected wants but a few dollars of the desired amount.
to require or need: The house wants painting.

verb (used without object)

to feel inclined; wish; like (often followed by to): We can stay home if you want.
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.
to have need (usually followed by for): If you want for anything, let him know.
to be in a state of destitution, need, or poverty: She would never allow her parents to want.
to be lacking or absent, as a part or thing necessary to completeness: All that wants is his signature.


something wanted or needed; necessity: My wants are few.
something desired, demanded, or required: a person of childish, capricious wants.
absence or deficiency of something desirable or requisite; lack: plants dying for want of rain.
the state of being without something desired or needed; need: to be in want of an assistant.
the state of being without the necessaries of life; destitution; poverty: a country where want is virtually unknown.
a sense of lack or need of something: to feel a vague want.


    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.

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

Synonym study

1. See wish. 3. See lack. 15. See poverty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wanting

Contemporary Examples of wanting

Historical Examples of wanting

  • But Uncle Peter had already put in some hard winters, and was not wanting in fortitude.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • How can I be with you day after day without loving you, hungering for you, wanting you, body and soul?


    William J. Locke

  • My reasons for not wanting to go to the railroad to work were good.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • I've been wanting to tell you for more than a week, but I didn't know how.

  • Yes, as Henry was saying, I have been wanting to see you ever since my daughter spoke of you.

British Dictionary definitions for wanting


adjective (postpositive)

lacking or absent; missing
not meeting requirements or expectationsyou have been found wanting


archaic minus




(tr) to feel a need or longing forI want a new hat
(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
(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
(tr) to feel the absence oflying on the ground makes me want my bed
(tr) to fall short by (a specified amount)
(tr) mainly British to have need of or require (doing or being something)your shoes want cleaning
(intr) to be destitute
(tr; often passive) to seek or request the presence ofyou're wanted upstairs
(intr) to be absent
(tr; takes an infinitive) informal should or ought (to do something)you don't want to go out so late
want in informal to wish to be included in a venture
want out informal to wish to be excluded from a venture


the act or an instance of wanting
anything that is needed, desired, or lackedto supply someone's wants
a lack, shortage, or absencefor want of common sense
the state of being in need; destitutionthe state should help those in want
a sense of lack; craving
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




English dialect a mole

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 wanting



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."



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wanting


In addition to the idioms beginning with want

  • want for nothing
  • want in

also see:

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