Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of need
Meaning of need by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • IPA: /niːd/, X-SAMPA: /ni:d/
    • Rhymes: -iːd
    • Homophone: knead, kneed

    Etymology 1

    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 .


    need ( plural: needs )

    1. ( countable and uncountable ) A requirement for something .
      There's no need to speculate; we can easily find out for sure .
      She grew irritated with his constant need for attention .
      Our needs are not being met .
    2. Something required .
      I've always tried to have few needs beyond food, clothing and shelter .
    Usage notes
    • Adjectives often used with "need": urgent, dire, desperate, strong, unmet, bad, basic, critical, essential, big, terrible, modest, elementary, daily, everyday, special, educational, environmental, human, personal, financial, emotional, medical, nutritional, spiritual, public, developmental, organizational, legal, fundamental, audio-visual, psychological, corporate, societal, psychosocial, functional, additional, caloric, private, monetary, physiological, mental .
    Derived terms

    Etymology 2

    From Old English nēodian .


    need ( third-person singular simple present needs present participle needing, simple past and past participle needed )

    1. ( obsolete ) To be necessary ( to someone ).
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.ix:
        More ample spirit, then hitherto was wount, / Here needes me [...] .
    2. ( transitive ) To have an absolute requirement for .
      Living things need water to survive .
    3. ( transitive ) To want strongly; to feel that one must have something .
      After ten days of hiking, I needed a shower and a shave .
    4. ( modal verb ) To be obliged or required ( to do something ) .
      You need not go if you don't want to .
    Usage notes
    Derived terms

    See also

    1. ^ “You Need To Read This: How need to vanquished have to, must, and should.” by Ben Yagoda, Slate, July 17, 2006


    • frequency based on Project Gutenberg corpus">Most common English words before 1923: short · able · five · #393: need · met · boy · c.

    External links

    • need in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • need in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


Explanation of need by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. have need of

    2. have or feel a need for

    3. always needing friends and money
    4. require as useful, just, or proper

    1. the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal

    2. anything that is necessary but lacking

    3. he had sufficient means to meet his simple needs
    4. a condition requiring relief

    5. she satisfied his need for affection
      God has no need of men to accomplish His work
    6. a state of extreme poverty or destitution

    7. a general state of need exists among the homeless