Definition of necessary in US English:



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

    ‘it's not necessary for you to be here’
    ‘members are admitted only after they have gained the necessary experience’
    • ‘Killing wasn't fun or heroic; it was simply sometimes necessary for survival.’
    • ‘After considering these two requirements, the court may still find it necessary to consider a third factor.’
    • ‘We had always stayed out of each others private business, prying only when we deemed it absolutely necessary.’
    • ‘Because the dealer may not follow through on completing and filing the necessary paperwork.’
    • ‘I imagine that the Minister and her officials would take whatever steps they deemed necessary to deal with the demand.’
    • ‘A social worker will be able to help fill out all of the necessary paperwork.’
    • ‘The interference must go no further than is strictly necessary to achieve its permitted purpose.’
    • ‘Many developing countries may lack the resources necessary to prevent such outbreaks.’
    • ‘We do not think it necessary to consider this issue at length.’
    • ‘I do not find it necessary to consider these definitions for present purposes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Procedural safeguards are also necessary to ensure that the powers are used properly.’
    • ‘A jury of experts reviewed a draft of the survey and made changes where necessary.’
    • ‘The minister's approval was necessary for the purpose of control and accountability.’
    • ‘The question then is, what steps are reasonably necessary to the attainment of that purpose?’
    • ‘Please could you send me the necessary paperwork required to begin this procedure.’
    • ‘I didn't tell you because it didn't seem necessary at the time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now, they feel it necessary to protect themselves'.’
    • ‘Ask yourself what could possibly go wrong and then take preventive actions where necessary.’
    • ‘My policy is to ignore readers who feel it necessary to resort to insults.’
    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’
    • ‘So urgency cannot be construed as a strictly necessary condition for the status of an impulse or desire as addictive.’
    • ‘It was an almost necessary consequence of using lenses.’
    • ‘He saw radical skepticism as a necessary consequence of the misery of the human condition.’
    • ‘However, that was no more than the necessary consequence of the change in the legislation.’
    • ‘Other disciplines and artistic representation are an inevitable and necessary part of the mix.’
    • ‘If the answer is still yes, you must accept all the necessary consequences.’
    • ‘Changes in the direction and rate of relative plate motion are necessary consequences of the evolution of plate mosaics.’
    • ‘Some home truths about the migration of people need to be remembered and the necessary consequences drawn.’
    • ‘But maintaining the separation of church and state is a necessary precondition of liberty.’
    • ‘As much as I'd like to think that spying doesn't happen, it's going to happen as a necessary consequence of competition.’
    • ‘But biodiversity is a necessary precondition for the long-term maintenance of biological resources.’
    • ‘It is not a necessary consequence, or a condition, of industrialization.’
    • ‘The necessary consequence of this was political centralization.’
    • ‘The magazine, he says, is ‘a necessary consequence of their superstar status’.’
    • ‘A necessary consequence of this is that, where they are in conflict, statute law prevails over the common law.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘How can one responsibly teach writers who use the reader's revulsion and horror as necessary responses?’
    • ‘Perhaps you may think that in this case the continuation of such stringent and draconian sanctions is a regrettable but necessary consequence.’
    • ‘The principal weakness is that there is no necessary consequence for the validity of a law which is successfully impugned.’
    • ‘I suppose that if we allow non-resident citizens to vote, this is a necessary consequence.’
    • ‘That delay was to a large extent a necessary consequence of the splitting of the allegations into separate trials.’
    inevitable, unavoidable, certain, sure, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable, fated, destined, predetermined, predestined, preordained
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    1. 2.1Philosophy (of a concept, statement, judgment, etc.) inevitably resulting from or produced by the nature of things, so that the contrary is impossible.
      • ‘The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of life: one is in no position to abolish it.’
      • ‘We ought not to be surprised when Hamlet refers to some necessary question of the play.’
      • ‘If it is shown that the opinion actually formed is not an opinion of this character, then the necessary opinion does not exist.’
      • ‘There could be no solution, they claimed, until the mind first grasped the necessary idea.’
      • ‘Bacon and Locke had discussed the question of a necessary knowledge of nature from a scholastic standpoint.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was some space left over in my trolley when I'd bought the necessaries so I filled it up with Christmas booze.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ward nurse gave me a list of necessaries, beginning with soap and ending with a bedpan.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To their credit, Pollack and his scriptwriters have tried to tackle all the necessaries of a proper old style political thriller head on.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There wasn't time for a full shop so I confined myself to the small list of necessaries I'd scribbled down.’
    • ‘Taxes on luxuries have some advantage over taxes on necessaries.’
    • ‘This was the principal site for retailing victuals and other necessaries.’
    • ‘After about another hour of going through information, records, and other such necessaries, we finally were ready to leave, or so I thought.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And if you look to the bottom of the bag, you'll find your necessaries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Small items required for a particular journey or purpose.
      ‘I hastily threw a few necessaries into a kit bag’
      • ‘The woman and her husband pleaded guilty in January to forcible confinement, assault with a weapon, and failure to provide the necessaries of life.’
      • ‘He wrote, ‘The accepted doctrine is, that capital is anything saved or reserved for the payment of labor not employed in, or devoted to the production of the immediate necessaries of life.’’
      • ‘In the short term, the mother, because she is gainfully employed and will likely remain so, is better able to provide Michael with the material necessaries of life.’
      • ‘She took the position that Mark remained a child of the marriage under her charge and unable to withdraw from her charge or obtain the necessaries of life on his own by reason of illness, disability or other cause.’
      • ‘In the Cariboo mining camps ‘train after train was coming in laden not with the necessaries of life, to keep poor men from starvation, but with whiskey, and Billiard Tables’’
      • ‘It depends on the ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life and any special needs.’
      • ‘They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the poor law unions had a legal obligation to ensure that nobody died of starvation, malnutrition, or ‘the want of the necessaries of life.’’
      • ‘Thirdly, what is the ability and willingness of each party to provide guidance and education, the necessaries of life and special needs for Christien?’
      • ‘I was persuaded on the evidence that both parents were equally able and willing to provide the children with the guidance, education, and necessaries of life to meet the needs of the children.’


  • a necessary evil

    • Something that is undesirable but must be accepted.

      • ‘Forest fires are a necessary evil, argue scientists and government officials.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I tried hating school, but I decided long ago that education was a necessary evil.’
      • ‘Speed cameras - a necessary evil or just a way of bringing money in?’
      • ‘If this was making inroads into the problem then many Americans would reluctantly accept this as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘I can think of 1,000 things I would rather do with my time, but it's a necessary evil.’
      • ‘So capitalism is indeed a necessary evil, and has been around ever since the beginning of human nature?’
      • ‘State and local officials have come to view tax breaks and ‘incentives’ as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘They seem to see sprawl as a problem to be eliminated, not a necessary evil to be mitigated.’
      • ‘They are seen as a necessary evil to promote stability and foreign investment in the region.’
      • ‘Animal testing is a necessary evil which will exist for many years to come.’
      • ‘To others, myself included, cleaning a dirty weapon is 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.’
      • ‘But if lights are occasionally necessary, they are a necessary evil.’
      • ‘We see some of these salaries as a necessary evil in order to attract good people to run our establishments!’
      • ‘But we are prepared to tolerate these noises as being a necessary evil.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We seem to accept death on the road as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘The department of sericulture, on the other hand, had accepted the problem of children working in silk factories as a necessary evil.’
      • ‘So in that sense, I agree that litigation can be 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.’


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