from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A condition or situation in which something must be supplied in order for a certain condition to be maintained or a desired state to be achieved.
  • noun Something required or wanted; a requisite.
  • noun Necessity; obligation.
  • noun A condition of poverty or misfortune.
  • intransitive verb To be under the necessity of or the obligation to.
  • intransitive verb To have need of; require.
  • intransitive verb To have an obligation (to do something).
  • intransitive verb To be subject (to an action) by obligation.
  • intransitive verb To want to be subject to.
  • intransitive verb To be in need or want.
  • intransitive verb To be necessary.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To have necessity or need for; want; lack; require.
  • Synonyms Ward, etc. See lack.
  • To be wanted; be necessary: used impersonally.
  • Needs; necessarily.
  • noun The lack of something that is necessary or important; urgent want; necessity.
  • noun Specifically, want of the means of subsistence; destitution; poverty; indigence; distress; privation.
  • noun Time of want; exigency; emergency: as, “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”
  • noun That which is needful; something necessary to be done.
  • noun A perilous extremity.
  • noun Synonyms Necessity, Need (see necessity and exigency) emergency, strait, extremity, distress.
  • noun Want, Indigence, etc. See poverty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To be wanted; to be necessary.
  • adverb obsolete Of necessity. See needs.
  • noun A state that requires supply or relief; pressing occasion for something; necessity; urgent want.
  • noun Want of the means of subsistence; poverty; indigence; destitution.
  • noun obsolete That which is needful; anything necessary to be done; (pl.) necessary things; business.
  • noun obsolete Situation of need; peril; danger.
  • transitive verb To be in want of; to have cause or occasion for; to lack; to require, as supply or relief.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable and uncountable A requirement for something.
  • noun Something required.
  • verb obsolete To be necessary (to someone).
  • verb transitive To have an absolute requirement for.
  • verb transitive To want strongly; to feel that one must have something.
  • verb modal verb To be obliged or required (to do something).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a condition requiring relief
  • noun anything that is necessary but lacking
  • noun a state of extreme poverty or destitution
  • verb have need of
  • verb require as useful, just, or proper
  • verb have or feel a need for
  • noun the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English nede, from Old English nēod, nēd, distress, necessity.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English need, nede, partly from Old English nīed, nēad ("necessity, inevitableness, need, urgent requirement, compulsion, duty; errand, business; difficulty, hardship, distress, trouble, pain; violence, force"), from Proto-Germanic *naudiz, *nauþiz (“need, trouble, force, distress, compulsion, fate, destiny”), from Proto-Indo-European *nAut- (“torment, misfortune”), from Proto-Indo-European *nāw- (“the dead, corpse”); and partly from Old English nēod ("desire, longing; zeal, eagerness, diligence, earnestness, earnest endeavor; pleasure, delight"), from Proto-Germanic *neudō, *neudaz (“wish, urge, desire, longing”), from Proto-Indo-European *new- (“to incline, tend, move, push, nod, wave”). Cognate with Scots nede ("need"), North Frisian nud ("hardship, danger, fear, self-defense, compulsion, control"), West Frisian need ("need"), Dutch nood ("need, want, distress, peril"), German Not ("need, distress, necessity, hardship"), Swedish nöd ("distress, need, necessity, want"), Icelandic neyð, nauð ("distress, emergency, need"), North Frisian njoe ("requirement, foredeal, benefit, convenience"), Middle Low German nüt ("desire, need, longing"), Middle High German niet ("longing, desire, eagerness, zeal"), German niedlich ("desirable, appealing, lovely, cute"). More at needly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English nēodian.


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  • However, as president we need a leader who can bring people together and get things done for the good of all Americans, that is why we * need* Obama.

    Super-Delegates, Super-Delegates, And More Super-Delegates 2009

  • No need to realize that if you have some good solid cooking skills, you don't *need* her ridiculous show.

    Rachel Ray - A Legend or a Hype? 2007

  • But it's not the sex or the kid who has a baby at 17 or the fact that people who need to can get divorced, it's that you don't *need* a reason to get divorced anymore, and the sex outside of marriage is *expected* and that it's not about helping someone through a bad time it's about redefining the "bad time" as something good.

    "What one's sin is, means it's missing the mark. It's missing the bull's eye, the perfect point." Ann Althouse 2007

  • If I could be sure that all parents who opt their kids out of the courses would teach them what they need to know -- not what the parents want them to know, but *need* to know, then I wouldn't have said what I said.

    Boys & Girls Together Steve Perry 2007

  • Helen Baker must leave college, because they need her _at home_, -- just think, _need her_!

    People of the Whirlpool Mabel Osgood Wright 1896

  • Reports, it may be worth while to notice that he never but once in his life advertised the public of any need, and that was the _need of more orphans_ -- more to care for in the name of the Lord -- a single and singular ease of advertising, by which he sought not to increase his

    George Müller of Bristol And His Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God 1874

  • We're concerned about how it will affect our lives (sleep, I need it to be a happy person -- no, really I * need* it; we would hate to go back to the financial place where we have to count every penny; we don't live near family; neither of us have much experience with babies; etc.)

    Ask MetaFilter 2009

  • Rather, under the rule as it now stands, “the label need have only one of these instructions.”


  • However, if the regular use of hot water will not harm the product, the label need not mention any water temperature.


  • However, if the regular use of a high temperature will not harm the product, the label need not mention any drying temperature.



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  • For some toddlers, this is the catch-all replacement word for "want", "like", "desire", etc.

    Perhaps some adults too...yikes!

    June 20, 2008