Definition of necessary in English:



  • 1Needed to be done, achieved, or present; essential.

    ‘they granted the necessary planning permission’
    ‘it's not necessary for you to be here’
    • ‘I imagine that the Minister and her officials would take whatever steps they deemed necessary to deal with the demand.’
    • ‘A jury of experts reviewed a draft of the survey and made changes where necessary.’
    • ‘Ask yourself what could possibly go wrong and then take preventive actions where necessary.’
    • ‘The minister's approval was necessary for the purpose of control and accountability.’
    • ‘I do not find it necessary to consider these definitions for present purposes.’
    • ‘We do not think it necessary to consider this issue at length.’
    • ‘Killing wasn't fun or heroic; it was simply sometimes necessary for survival.’
    • ‘Many developing countries may lack the resources necessary to prevent such outbreaks.’
    • ‘After considering these two requirements, the court may still find it necessary to consider a third factor.’
    • ‘Often it's impossible for the architect of a company to make the changes necessary to ensure it survives.’
    • ‘But hunting with dogs is not natural or necessary in our society today.’
    • ‘Please could you send me the necessary paperwork required to begin this procedure.’
    • ‘We had always stayed out of each others private business, prying only when we deemed it absolutely necessary.’
    • ‘The interference must go no further than is strictly necessary to achieve its permitted purpose.’
    • ‘A social worker will be able to help fill out all of the necessary paperwork.’
    • ‘Remedies are then prescribed where necessary in order to balance the energy to produce a positive effect.’
    • ‘Eva takes the boy in but does not give him the skills necessary for his survival.’
    • ‘The question then is, what steps are reasonably necessary to the attainment of that purpose?’
    • ‘Because the dealer may not follow through on completing and filing the necessary paperwork.’
    • ‘My policy is to ignore readers who feel it necessary to resort to insults.’
    • ‘I didn't tell you because it didn't seem necessary at the time.’
    • ‘Now, they feel it necessary to protect themselves'.’
    • ‘Procedural safeguards are also necessary to ensure that the powers are used properly.’
    obligatory, requisite, required, compulsory, mandatory, imperative, demanded, needed, called for, needful
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  • 2Determined, existing, or happening by natural laws or predestination; inevitable.

    ‘a necessary consequence’
    • ‘Changes in the direction and rate of relative plate motion are necessary consequences of the evolution of plate mosaics.’
    • ‘The necessary consequence is that there had to be a redefinition of the rights and obligations of the parents, and of those with care of children.’
    • ‘That delay was to a large extent a necessary consequence of the splitting of the allegations into separate trials.’
    • ‘It is not a necessary consequence, or a condition, of industrialization.’
    • ‘Other disciplines and artistic representation are an inevitable and necessary part of the mix.’
    • ‘The magazine, he says, is ‘a necessary consequence of their superstar status’.’
    • ‘How can one responsibly teach writers who use the reader's revulsion and horror as necessary responses?’
    • ‘However, that was no more than the necessary consequence of the change in the legislation.’
    • ‘I suppose that if we allow non-resident citizens to vote, this is a necessary consequence.’
    • ‘It was an almost necessary consequence of using lenses.’
    • ‘As much as I'd like to think that spying doesn't happen, it's going to happen as a necessary consequence of competition.’
    • ‘He saw radical skepticism as a necessary consequence of the misery of the human condition.’
    • ‘The necessary consequence of this was political centralization.’
    • ‘Perhaps you may think that in this case the continuation of such stringent and draconian sanctions is a regrettable but necessary consequence.’
    • ‘If the answer is still yes, you must accept all the necessary consequences.’
    • ‘The principal weakness is that there is no necessary consequence for the validity of a law which is successfully impugned.’
    • ‘But biodiversity is a necessary precondition for the long-term maintenance of biological resources.’
    • ‘So urgency cannot be construed as a strictly necessary condition for the status of an impulse or desire as addictive.’
    • ‘But maintaining the separation of church and state is a necessary precondition of liberty.’
    • ‘Some home truths about the migration of people need to be remembered and the necessary consequences drawn.’
    • ‘A necessary consequence of this is that, where they are in conflict, statute law prevails over the common law.’
    inevitable, unavoidable, certain, sure, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable, fated, destined, predetermined, predestined, preordained
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    1. 2.1Philosophy (of a concept, statement, etc.) inevitably resulting from the nature of things, so that the contrary is impossible.
      • ‘We ought not to be surprised when Hamlet refers to some necessary question of the play.’
      • ‘Bacon and Locke had discussed the question of a necessary knowledge of nature from a scholastic standpoint.’
      • ‘The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of life: one is in no position to abolish it.’
      • ‘There could be no solution, they claimed, until the mind first grasped the necessary idea.’
      • ‘If it is shown that the opinion actually formed is not an opinion of this character, then the necessary opinion does not exist.’
    2. 2.2Philosophy (of an agent) having no independent volition.
      • ‘The sixth is that if a man were not a necessary agent he would be ignorant of morality and have no motive to practice it.’


usually necessaries
  • 1The basic requirements of life, such as food and warmth.

    ‘not merely luxuries, but also the common necessaries’
    ‘poor people complaining for want of the necessaries of life’
    • ‘Shelter, medicine, basic schooling, and even necessaries like food and water were now being provided to the million upon million of starving adults, and their children.’
    • ‘This was the principal site for retailing victuals and other necessaries.’
    • ‘And if you look to the bottom of the bag, you'll find your necessaries.’
    • ‘She had spent an hour or so showing the captain the necessaries in caring for his mother, and had promised to stop by the following afternoon, just to check on things.’
    • ‘Work was about to be resumed at the Emergency Kitchen for the relief of the sick poor of York, which was for the immediate relief of all poor persons who were ill, and too poor to afford the pressing necessaries their sufferings required.’
    • ‘Taxes on luxuries have some advantage over taxes on necessaries.’
    • ‘There wasn't time for a full shop so I confined myself to the small list of necessaries I'd scribbled down.’
    • ‘The ward nurse gave me a list of necessaries, beginning with soap and ending with a bedpan.’
    • ‘He could supply drovers with all necessaries, including the best brands of liquors and fresh water.’
    • ‘I picked up enough consumables and necessaries to tide us over the next couple of days.’
    • ‘Others resort to exploitation, as in the case of an injured officer who, with the help of a resentful assistant, attempts to trade tobacco leaves with the retreating soldiers in exchange for food and other necessaries.’
    • ‘I shall have to use a jar of pre-made sauce for that because I'm not geared up with necessaries for sauce making yet.’
    • ‘Lots of worthwhile things got done today, domestic things, keeping the small ship of our household trim and balanced, clean and supplied with the necessaries.’
    • ‘And a big plus is that it's not too trendy to supply the necessaries for making coffee and tea.’
    • ‘There was some space left over in my trolley when I'd bought the necessaries so I filled it up with Christmas booze.’
    • ‘Bread, margarine, orange juice, jam, fruit and veg, cereals, milk, meat, biscuits and some other necessaries such as kitchen towels, toothpaste, beer and disposable nappies.’
    • ‘However, my CD drive is broken, and I specifically checked when I ordered that it would be possible to download the necessaries from the internet.’
    • ‘To their credit, Pollack and his scriptwriters have tried to tackle all the necessaries of a proper old style political thriller head on.’
    • ‘But back then florists seemed rather more in touch with the real world and would provide a few bunches of the cheapest blooms you could have for the small change left after shopping for necessaries.’
    • ‘At the time of writing his Wealth of Nations, Smith noted that only four necessaries were subject to tax in Great Britain, specifically salt, leather, soap and candles.’
    • ‘After about another hour of going through information, records, and other such necessaries, we finally were ready to leave, or so I thought.’
    • ‘Two or three trips out for provisions and necessaries for the immediate works have given us our first close-hand contact with the beautiful landscape.’
    1. 1.1the necessaryinformal The action or item needed.
      ‘see when they need a tactful word of advice and do the necessary’
      • ‘I don't know if you all realize how much I hate being ill, anyhow, I am doing the necessary.’
      • ‘As I empathised with the poor guy, I obliged him by doing the necessary.’
      • ‘Unable to get the human variety, the club has hired a team of four llamas to do the necessary.’
      • ‘Unafraid of blood and guts, I went with him to the top of the garden where he did the necessary.’
      • ‘Of course, if she's busy reading or otherwise occupied, she sends the sprog in her place to do the necessary.’
    2. 1.2the necessaryBritish informal The money needed.
      ‘a bag containing my wallet: the money, the necessary’
      • ‘Paul, a successful model with ambitions to run his own place, came up with the necessary.’


  • a necessary evil

    • Something that is undesirable but must be accepted.

      ‘for many, paying taxes is at best a necessary evil’
      • ‘I tried hating school, but I decided long ago that education was a necessary evil.’
      • ‘Animal testing is a necessary evil which will exist for many years to come.’
      • ‘So in that sense, I agree that litigation can be a necessary evil.’
      • ‘To others, myself included, cleaning a dirty weapon is a necessary evil.’
      • ‘State and local officials have come to view tax breaks and ‘incentives’ as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘But if lights are occasionally necessary, they are a necessary evil.’
      • ‘But we are prepared to tolerate these noises as being a necessary evil.’
      • ‘We see some of these salaries as a necessary evil in order to attract good people to run our establishments!’
      • ‘Forest fires are a necessary evil, argue scientists and government officials.’
      • ‘I can think of 1,000 things I would rather do with my time, but it's a necessary evil.’
      • ‘We seem to accept death on the road as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘They do not enhance the appearance of the district in which they are situated but are coming to be regarded as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘Speed cameras - a necessary evil or just a way of bringing money in?’
      • ‘In fact they enter the course regarding cryptography as a necessary evil that must be endured in order for them to obtain an Information Security qualification.’
      • ‘So capitalism is indeed a necessary evil, and has been around ever since the beginning of human nature?’
      • ‘They seem to see sprawl as a problem to be eliminated, not a necessary evil to be mitigated.’
      • ‘If this was making inroads into the problem then many Americans would reluctantly accept this as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘Despite this, the daily commute is considered by most to be a necessary evil to be tolerated in order to call a place your own.’
      • ‘The department of sericulture, on the other hand, had accepted the problem of children working in silk factories as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘They are seen as a necessary evil to promote stability and foreign investment in the region.’
      • ‘Many investors say they care less for animal than human lives, taking the view that animal testing is a necessary evil if medical developments are to progress.’


Late Middle English: from Latin necessarius, from necesse ‘be needful’.