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

  • n. A condition or situation in which something is required or wanted: crops in need of water; a need for affection.
  • n. Something required or wanted; a requisite: "Those of us who led the charge for these women's issues ... shared a common vision in the needs of women” ( Olympia Snowe).
  • n. Necessity; obligation: There is no need for you to go.
  • n. A condition of poverty or misfortune: The family is in dire need.
  • auxiliary v. To be under the necessity of or the obligation to: They need not come.
  • transitive v. To have need of; require: The family needs money. See Synonyms at lack.
  • intransitive v. To be in need or want.
  • intransitive v. To be necessary.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A requirement for something.
  • n. Something required.
  • v. To be necessary (to someone).
  • v. To have an absolute requirement for.
  • v. To want strongly; to feel that one must have something.
  • v. To be obliged or required (to do something).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

  • n. a condition requiring relief
  • n. anything that is necessary but lacking
  • n. a state of extreme poverty or destitution
  • v. have need of
  • v. require as useful, just, or proper
  • v. have or feel a need for
  • n. 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.


  • 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

  • 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."

  • 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

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

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

    People of the Whirlpool

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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